The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia

Church Histories



BAPTIST church.
In the year 1772 two members of the Baptist church in Warwick, N.Y., came to the present town of Morris, and after making clearings returned, and in the following year took up their abode in the wilderness, bringing with them their families. A prayer-meeting was immediately held, and this praying band increased with the settlement. The War of the Revolution broke up the settlement, and the inhabitants returned to their eastern homes. After an absence of five years they returned to the forest, rebuilt their dwellings, and reinaugurated their prayer-meetings. They were now assisted by Mr. Solomon HATCH, a Baptist licentiate and lay preacher.
In 1787, Rev. Mr. COMSTOCK, the Baptist pastor on Cooper's patent, visited the settlement and organized a church, which, however, in consequence of his death,  occurring soon after, became extinct. In 1793 the church was organized with ten members, five males and five females, and this town at that time being a part of Unadilla it was called the First Baptist church of Unadilla, and the council, through J. CRAW, moderator, and Captain Elisha CRAW, clerk, gave the right hand of fellowship to the little church Aug. 28, 1793.
Increase THURSTON was the first deacon, Captain CRAW the first clerk, and Reuben ELLIS second deacon. At the first meeting of the Otsego association the church reported 17 members. The first regular pastor was Rev. John LAWTON, who received $100 per annum,-$20 in money, and the balance in the "necessaries of life." The first church edifice was erected in 1818, and was located about two miles northeast of the present house, near what was then the centre of population. It cost about $600, and was occupied twenty-three years. The second cost about $1000, and was occupied twenty-eight years, and the present house was  erected at a cost of about $16,000.
The Rev. Charles AYER says, "The Baptists have the honor to have been the evangelical pioneers in this valley. The first prayer in this valley was offered by a Baptist church member, no Christian being within sixteen miles of his closet. The first soul converted was in a Baptist family. The first sermon preached was by a Baptist minister, and the first pastor resident here was John LAWTON, and the first notable blessing of the Holy Spirit here enjoyed was upon that pastor's preaching." The following persons have served the church in the pastoral office from its organization to the present time, viz.: Revs. John LAWTON, R. ADAMS, J. WRIGHT, J. AMNER, L. CASLER, E. H. BAILEY, E. BALDWIN, C. B. POST, S. A. DOUGLASS, L. E. SPAFFORD, S. P. BROWN, H. A. SHERWOOD, N. RIPLEY, E. M. BLANCHARD, J. JONES, Charles AYER, L. B. FORD, A. W. CLARK (supply), A. S. HOBART, present pastor.
ZION Church (by Rev. Hobart COOKE)
The organization of Zion church (Morris) is identified with the very early history of Otsego County. In 1793 the first clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal church began itinerant labors in this county. His name was Rev. Ammi ROGERS. Even prior to this the services of the Episcopal church were maintained by early settlers, first among whom were Ichabod B. PALMER and Elnathan NOBLE, who came from Connecticut to make a home in what was afterwards known as the Butternut valley. The first church organization grew out of the services held in the house of Mr. PALMER, and the subsequent work of the early ministers, who wrought in a genuine missionary spirit as they traveled constantly from place to place establishing regular divine worship at various places. The first clergyman to be really recognized as a permanent pastor was the Rev Daniel NASH, familiarly known then, and spoken of now, as "Father Nash." His first ministerial labor was performed in 1797, when, immediately after his ordination as a deacon in the sacred ministry, he came, accompanied by his faithful wife, to this county, and  began his work here and in Exeter. After the year 1800  he extended his travels to Cooperstown and Unadilla, and  other places in this and in the adjoining counties. During  this ministry of his diaconate, and just as he was about to be ordained to the priesthood, the first church edifice was erected in this parish. It was called "Harmony Church,"  and stood on what is now known in the town of Morris as the Old Church burying-ground. This is said to have been the first Episcopal church built in Otsego County. It was the year 1801. This church building was never formally consecrated, and at a later date was sold to one H. T. McGEORGE. Father Nash continued to officiate here regularly every month until 1814. He was then joined in the  care of this parish by the Rev. Russel WHEELER, who, in the year 1818, became the officially recognized rector of the church in Butternuts. In the spring of the year of 1818 the corner-stone of the present church edifice was laid, and in the November following the building was fully completed and paid for. Total cost, $6000.
At about this time, it was resolved by the congregation to change the name from Harmony church to that of Zion church; and under this new name the new structure was consecrated to the worship of Almighty God by the Right Rev. John Henry HOBART, bishop of New York, on the  22d day of November, 1818. On the following day the Rev. Russel WHEELER was formally instituted as rector of the parish by Bishop HOBART, and remained an honored and most useful pastor of this church for eighteen years.
In 1836, the Rev. Orsamus H. SMITH succeeded Rev. Mr. WHEELER, filling an acceptable pastorate of two years. In the year 1838, the Rev. Amos B. BEACH was called to the rectorship of Zion church. During an administration of seventeen years, Mr. BEACH was most abundantly successful in awakening new life in the parish, and in promoting its advancement in active work and permanent strength. Under his supervision a rectory was built, a school-house erected, and a flourishing parish school organized, and an organ placed in the church. The first Sunday-school was also established during this time.
Following this pastorate, so well remembered for its efficiency and its substantial results in the interest of the church, came the Rev. Wm. H. HILL, who remained during a rectorship of a little more than four years. Mr. HILL is often spoken of as having been in those days a most forcible and very eloquent preacher,-an indefatigable worker. His missionary zeal and labor made him widely and well known throughout the county, while his parish reaped large benefits from his pastoral visitations from house to house.
In 1855, the Rev. Wm. J. ALGER became the minister, remaining about two years. In 1858, the Rev. Wm. J. EARLY succeeded to the rectorship, remaining also about two years. In 1860, the Rev. George L. FOOTE became the rector, continuing until, some two years later, he was incapacitated for further duty by paralysis.
Succeeding the ministry of Mr. FOOTE, the Rev. Daniel S. TUTTLE was called, first as assistant minister, and upon  the death of Rev. Mr. FOOTE was elected to the rectorship of the church.
While rector here Mr. TUTTLE was distinguished for great zeal and faithfulness in the discharge of ministerial duties; and in the spring of 1867 he was elected missionary bishop of Montana, Utah, and Idaho, to which field of  increased responsibility and honor he took his departure soon after.
The successor of Bishop TUTTLE was the Rev. Nelson S. RULISON. Under his rectorship the parish found a fitting successor to the vigorous administration of the pastor whom they had given up to the episcopate.
The congregation increased to still larger numbers, and grew in prosperity. During the two years and a half of Mr. RULISON's pastorate a fine stone chapel was completed, having been built by the members of the MORRIS family as a family memorial, and for the benefit of the neighborhood about the old General MORRIS' estate. A movement was also made which resulted in the complete renovation of the old parish church, enlarging it by the addition of a large recess chancel, with organ-room on one side, and robing- room on the other; removing the side-galleries, replacing the old windows with stained glass, and bringing the  interior of the church, with the alterations and new furnishings, to compare favorably with the best churches in the county. The expense of the work was something above ten thousand dollars.
Upon the resignation of Mr. RULISON, to accept the  rectorship of a new and important church work in Jersey City, the Rev. F. N. LUSON became the rector for a few months, resigning his place in August, 1870.
In December of the same year the Rev. Thomas H. CULLEN accepted a call and entered upon his duties as rector, and remained until June, 1872.
In August of the same year the Rev. Charles T. COER, then in deacon's orders, entered upon the duties as officiating minister in the parish, and in March of the following year was ordained in Zion church to the priesthood. Upon his advancement to this "degree,"-earned in an energetic and  faithful discharge of the many duties of a busy pastorate,- he was elected to the rectorship of the parish; and in May of the following year (1874) tendered his resignation, returning to his previous charge of the chapel of the Good Shepherd, Binghamton, N.Y.
In June of the same year the Rev. Hobart COOKE, having succeeded to the rectorship, entered upon his duties, and remains now in the fourth year of a successful pastorate.
In the spring of 1875 the church received from Mrs. Jonah DAVIS a beautiful and costly marble font, to be placed in the church as a memorial of her late husband, Jonah DAVIS. And in the fall of the same year a fine organ, costing something over three thousand dollars, was also presented the church as the gift of one of her generous- hearted communicants.
The present condition of this time-honored organization so identified with the growth and the interests of the old town of Butternuts and the present town of Morris, is that of a strong and prosperous church, numbering nearly three hundred communicants, and active in the many and varied good works which has likewise distinguished it in the long years of its history.
METHODIST church. 
The Morris Methodist Episcopal society was in all  probability formed in the year 1828, and constituted a part of the Chenango circuit. The Rev. Joshua ROGERS was then preacher in charge on said circuit. Meetings were first held about one mile from "Louisville," now Morris, sometimes in a private dwelling, but more frequently in a district  school-house. In the year 1838 the appointment was changed to the village school-house in Morris. In the year 1845 the Butternuts and Morris societies were set off from the Chenango circuit, and served by two ministers, alternating between the two appointments. It was during this year-1845-the Morris society built them a church, at the probable cost of $2000. In 1847 Morris became a separate charge. In the year 1870 some $7000 was expended for additional ground, sheds, enlargement of church basement, steeple, and bell.
The following were the official members:
Presiding Elder.-L. A. EDDY.
Pastor.-David S. HOLLISTER
Exhorters.-Wm. F. DANIELS and Joel DAVIS.
Stewards.-Wm. HAYNES, Ransom MOFFAT, and D. C. BRASEE.
Leaders.-Moses T. WINTON, Humphrey WILBUR, and Wm. HAYNES.
Members.-Wm. A. ARNOLD, Catharine APLIN, Adelia ANDREWS, Elizabeth S. ALLEN, Mary AXTELLE, Susan ARNOLD, Bradly BEEMAN, Daniel E. BARRET, Oscar Z. BROWN, Lucia BUTTS, Sarah BECKER, Mary BATES, Judith BATES, Wm. CLARK, Green COOKE, Wm. DAVIS, Phebe DAVIS, Ellen DAVIS, Sarah DARLING, Mary FOLTS, Ann FLAGG, Ruth HAYNES, Caroline JACOBS, Wm. LYNCH, Lynda LYNCH, Huldah POTTER, Cyntha POTTER, Harriet PLACE, Sylvia SHUTE, Effa SHUTE, Anna WILBER, Nancy Ann BROWN, Betsey BARRET, Almira BUTTS, Eliza BARTHOLOMEW, Christiana BEMAN, Nehemiah DANIELS, Nancy Ann DANIELS, Elizabeth DANIELS, Mary Ann DAVIS, Ursula DAVIS, Melissa DAVIS, Lucinda DARLING, Charlotte DANIELS, Catharine EDWARDS, Eliza E. FOOTE, Harriet HARRINGTON, Isaac GOODSPEED, Susannah GIFFORD, Esther GIFFORD, Elizabeth GONE, Cyrus TUCKER, Lucilla WINANS, Ebenezer E. HARRIS, Avery R. HARRIS, Hepsibah HOLDEN, Elizabeth HAIGHT, Elizabeth HAYNES, Sarah Ann HAYNES, Charlotte HOLLISTER, Fanny M. HATHAWAY, Olive HATHAWAY, Aaron H. LEWIS, D. H. C. LEWIS, Warren LEWIS, Elizabeth LYNCH, Elizabeth LEWIS, Martha LATHROP, Diadema LEWIS, Ransom MOFFATT, John M. MARBLE, Maria MOFFATT, Phebe L. SHAW, Velores THURSTIN, Mary WATERHOUSE, Hannah MOFFATT, Clarisa JAYCOX, Emeline MOORE, Martin MARBLE, Susannah NEWTON, Sophronia NEWTON, Catharine NICHOLS, Walden O'BRIEN, Olive O'BRIEN, Nancy Ann O'BRIEN, Hannah OSBORN, Abigail PEARSALL, Abigail PLACE, Locisa PLACE, Diana PHILIPS, Cornelia PHILIPS, Wm. H. SMYTH, Aaron SPERRY, Mary SMYTH, Eunice SMYTH, Almira WILSON, Lydia WING, Caroline M. SMYTH, Catharine SMYTH, Susannah SMYTH, Sarah SOMERS, Helen SOMERS, Euphemia SHERMAN, Catharine STERLING, Tabor TOBY, Anna THURSTON, Phebe THURSTON, Olive THURSTON, Betsey TOBEY, Esther TURNER, Benjamin WINTON, Joseph WATERHOUSE, George WILSON, Thomas WILSON, Elizabeth WINTON, Lois WINTON, Ambrosia WINTON, and Drucilla WYNANS.
Presiding Elders.-L. A. EDDY, L. SPERRY, I. PARKS, D. D., A. J. DANA, J. SHANK, J. T. WRIGHT, Wm. BIXBY, W. N. COBB, H. WHEELER, and H. R. CLARK, D.D.
Exhorter.-N. B. RIPLEY.
Membership.-One hundred and eighty-two.
Seventy-five of these have been added to the church thus far this present conference year, and indications foreshadow that the church is yet to grow in numbers and temporal and spiritual strength. Old debts-the running expenses of the church in part for the past two years-have been satisfied  this year, and an old church indebtedness, amounting now to $700, has been fully provided for; and it is but justice to say that the names of William DAVIS and Jonathan HOLLISTER will long live in the memory of this church, for their devotedness to it in her days of weakness as well as in her days of prosperity, each having given $1000 for repairing and clearing the church of its indebtedness. Many others have given liberally, and at all times shown their devotedness to all its interests, whose names space would not permit us to mention.
Rev. A. E. DANIELS was licensed by this church to exhort in the year 1832, and in 1833 received local preacher's license. In 1834 he was received into Oneida conference, and is now on the superannuated list and located in Morris, his native town. As a preacher he is widely known for his marked ability as theologian, as a sound reasoner, and his fidelity in all the past and present to the doctrines of the church of his choice, and his great success in his ministerial calling; and although at the present seventy-three years of age, retains in an eminent degree his faculties, and as ready now to labor for Christ as in the past, and looking only a little way on for the glorious crown for which he has so nobly fought for a long life, and which is in waiting for him.
Also five others of the Morris church have become ministers. Two-namely, Joel DAVIS and E. D. THURSTON-joined the Oneida conference. The former, a few years since, went from us to the Protestant Episcopal church. The latter is now an effective minister in the Central New York conference. Geo. W. GREEN joined the New England conference, and was both acceptable and useful for many years, but has now, I think, passed to his reward. B. P. RIPLEY, who was sent out by this church, is now at Laurens, Otsego County, an effective laborer in Christ's vineyard.
William R. LYNCH was also licensed here. He was a devoted and successful worker, earnest in all his labors. He died Feb. 25, 1871, having labored in the church seventeen years.
The first Universalist sermon was preached in a barn, on what was then called "Gregory Hill" before the town was divided, by the Rev. Nathaniel STACY. It was preached in 1832. The first sermon preached in Louisville (Morris) was in the old "red school-house," by the Rev. Walter BULLARD, in 1838. He afterwards preached once a month for three months. The next preaching was by T. J. GOODRICH, from Oxford, Chenango Co., N.Y., who preached once a month for one year. After Mr. GOODRICH had finished his labors the Rev. Job POTTER occasionally preached. A subscription was then started for the purpose of building a church about the year 1840, which was accomplished the next year, 1841, and the Rev. O. WHISTON preached the dedicatory sermon. The first settled pastor after the church was built was Rev. David PICKERING, who remained two years. At that time a society of forty-two members was formed. Rev. Daniel S. MOREY succeeded him, and from that time the society have had the labors of the following clergymen: T. J. SMITH, DODGE, STEWART, BAILEY, PECK, JACKSON, TOMLINSON, CROSBY, HARRINGTON, PERKINS,  WILLIAMS, and L. F. PORTER, who is its present pastor.
The present membership is one hundred.
FRIENDS' church.
The Friends' organized a church here in an early day, and among the first members were Prince WING and Deborah, his wife, George BOWNE and sons, Robert and Joseph, Jonathan NICKERSON and Polly, his wife, Amos WOOD and Phoebe, his wife, Daniel FOSTER and wife, Nathaniel VARNEY and wife, Aaron WING and Deborah, his wife. The church building was erected in 1811 by Peter PLATT,  and was 30 by 41 feet in size, with gallery, and cost about $1000.
The first pastor was Joseph BOWNE, who remained in service about forty years. Other ministers from that time to the present were Caleb BOALEY, David H. BENNETT, Phoebe Ann WEEDEN, Jarvis RIDER, and Joseph BOWNE. The present house of worship is located about half a mile east of the village of Morris, and the present officers are as  follows: Levi YOUMANS and Jabez COLLINS, overseers; Walter CORNELL, clerk.

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