The History of Otsego County, New York
D. Hamilton Hurd
Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia
The first religious organization in this village was of the
Presbyterian order and faith, and was formed in the year
1786. By whom it was organized, who composed its
membership, who ministered to it, where it held its meetings,
how long it existed, what it accomplished, and what was
the cause of its dissolution, no one, probably, this side of
the eternal world, knows. Its history has perished with
those who were identified with it.
But not withstanding the failure of this church enterprise
the people were not discouraged in their attempts to supply
themselves with the means of grace, nor could they long
remain content to be deprived of the privileges of the
preached gospel. So, uniting with the people of the
adjoining town of Schenevus, they made application to the
classis of Albany, a judicatory of the Dutch Reformed
church, for the ministry of the word among them. In response
to this application the Rev. Abraham VON HORNE, with
Mr. Nicholas QUACKENBOSS, elder, proceeded to
Schenevus on Saturday, Jan. 24, 1800, and preached his
introductory sermon from Acts xvi. 9, "And a vision appeared
to Paul in the night. There stood a man of Macedonia, and
prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help
us." And on the next day, the Sabbath, the 25th, he preached
two sermons at the house of Mr. Frederick BROWN, of
this place, after which he proceeded to organize a church
in due form, ordaining as elders John HOUGHTALING,
Henry SCRAMLIN, John VAN DE WERKE, James DEITZ,
and as deacons, William MERENESS, David SCRAMLIN,
Aaron BARNES, and James QUACKENBOSS. About 1805,
preparations were made for the erection of a house of worship.
A large part of the timber necessary for the frame-work of
the building was delivered near the spot where the present
edifice stands, but through the inability of the church to go
on with the work which had been so auspiciously begun, the
enterprise failed, and the entire bill of lumber rotted on the
ground. In the meantime services were held in the barn of Mr.
Frederick BROWN, who lived upon the premises now
occupied by Mrs. Harriet FORD, and who afterwards-in the
year 1821, Jan. 16-deeded to the trustees of the church,
to be used for a church and burial purposes, all that portion
of land embraced within the old cemetery and the present
church-grounds. In 1815 materials for a church building
was again collected, and in the following year this house
of God, in its original form, was raised and inclosed, and in
it, as it was in its unfinished state, with a work-bench for a
platform and rough boards for seats, the people worshiped
until such time as their means enabled them to complete it
(which was not until some seven or eight years later), and
to-day it stands as a monument of the sacrifices and Christian
zeal of that resolute and sturdy people. This second organized
church of Presbyterian order, extending over a period of
more than twenty years, has left behind it no written record
beside the bare fact of its organization, two or three changes
in its board of elders and deacons in the years 1802 and
1804, and a list of its infant baptisms, together with the
names of some of the ministers by whom the rite was performed.
The first official act of Rev. Abraham VAN HORNE in
connection with this church, and which occurred the day
after its organization, was the baptism of Maria, infant
daughter of George and Elizabeth SHELLMAN; and during
the first seventeen years of the church's existence no less
than 290 children were publicly given to God by baptism,
upwards of 150 of whom were baptized previous to the year
1808, and all these 150 children were born within the pale
of the church and congregation within a period of eight
years. Those were days that would have encouraged the
hearts of Sabbath-school superintendents, and days when
this sacrament of the church was better observed than at
the present time, and when even the world's people desired
the seal of God to be set upon their children.
This record of baptisms, with the names of some of the
officiating ministers, gives us the only clue we have of the
men who served as pastors of the church, and in this list
we find, during the first six years after the organization of
the church, the names of Rev. Abraham VAN HORNE, G.
MANDERVILLE, Thomas KIRKHAM, W. PRAFFLE, John
TOLL, and Cornelius SCHEMERHORN. To these may be
added the name of Rev. Alexander CONKEY, who is the
only other minister known to have been set over the church.
For reasons at present unknown, this society, after some
twenty years' existence, became broken, disorganized, and
enjoyed no regular administration of gospel ordinances. A
remnant, however, was left, who, in conjunction with others
who had never been connected with any Christian body,
desired to organize a new church. An invitation to a meeting
of conference on the subject was accordingly sent to Rev.
William FISHER, who lived and preached at Meredith
Square. The meeting was held and the subject discussed.
Rev. Wm. FISHER and Rev. Abel CALDWELL were present.
Nothing definite, however, was arrived at, but the expressed
desire of a number to be formed into a church whose
membership would consist of those, and those only, who had
been made savingly acquainted with Christ and could give
a reason for the hope that was in them. There is perhaps
presumptive evidence in this expressed desire of those few
Christians that many had been received into the old church
who had never met with a change of heart, and that it was
this irreligious element in the church that proved its ruin.
However this may be, a second meeting was held at the
home of Frederick BROWN, Dec. 21, 1822, at which were
present Rev. John MORSE and Rev. Wm. FISHER, and, after
the examination of a number of persons respecting their
experimental and doctrinal knowledge of religion, the meeting
adjourned, to be held at the same place, Jan. 18, 1823. On
that day (Jan. 18, 1823) the following fourteen persons, viz.,
James DEITZ, Lawrence SWARTZ, John YOUNGS, Henry
COUSE, Joseph YOUNGS, Anna SWARTZ, Margaret
YOUNGS, Elizabeth VAN WHORT, Lany VAN WHORT,
Mary MARENESS, Catharine BROWN, Catharine BREWER,
Elizabeth YOUNGS, and Polly MARENESS, having been
examined relative to their experimental and doctrinal
knowledge on religion, and having adopted the confession
of faith and covenant drawn up by the Northern Associated
presbytery, were constituted a Christian church by the name
of the Second Presbyterian church of Milford.* Rev. Wm.
FISHER and Rev. Abel CALDWELL were present, and
effected the organization.
*The town of Oneonta was organized about seven years
later, April 17, 1830
To the church thus organized, Mr. FISHER, the first
minister, who continued to live at Meredith Square, preached
once in four weeks. During that same year sixteen more
were added to its communion, making in all a membership
of thirty at the end of the first year. On the 30th of August,
Lawrence SWARTZ, Nicholas SIGSBEE, James DEITZ,
and Joseph YOUNGS were ordained as elders, and the two
latter were also set apart to the office of deacons.
Mr. FISHER remained two years, and was succeeded by
Rev. Augustus LITTLEJOHN, an evangelist, the result of
whose labors was an extended revival. Prominent among
the fruits of this revival were two names well known to the
people of Oneonta. The one, that of Timothy SABIN, who
united with the church Aug. 4, 1833, was made an elder
two years later, has ever since been a pillar, first in that
organization, then in this, and who is still spared, though at
an advanced age. This venerable patriarch is held in high
esteem by all who know him, and his long and active career
has ever been marked by a truly Christian spirit. The other,
that of Eliakim R. FORD, who identified himself with the
Baptist church, and who to the day of his death did noble and
generous service for the Master there; whose precious memory
is still fresh in the minds of a large circle of friends and
relatives; whose children not only, but the children of
multitudes of others, rise up and call him blessed.
From this date until 1849 the following served the
church as pastors: Rev. William CLARK, Charles GILBERT,
Joseph W. PADDOCK, Gains M. BLODGETT.
On Feb. 24, 1849, the present church organization was
effected, consisting of the following persons, viz.: Hezekiah,
Hannah, and Louisa WATKINS, Cornelius and Laura BROWN,
Timothy and Harriet SABIN, John and Rebecca DILLINGHAM,
Frederick DERBY, Luman S. OSBORN, John CUTSHAW,
Lydia FRITTS, Cynthia MANN, Sophia AVERY, Eunice and
Elizabeth BRONSON. Of these four only still remain with
us,-Timothy SABIN, Luman S. OSBORN, John CUTSHAW,
and Lydia FRITTS. Hezekiah WATKINS, John DILLINGHAM,
and Luman S. OSBORN were chosen and ordained elders.
Hezekiah WATKINS, L. S. OSBORN, and Tunis SWART were
chosen trustees for the term of one, two, and three years,
respectfully, and the society became incorporated as the
First Presbyterian society of Oneonta.
A second meeting was held on Saturday, March 17, at
which the church received four more accessions, two of
whom were Timothy WATKINS and Mrs. Harriet HUNTINGTON.
The following have served this church as pastors and
supplies from its organization to the present time, viz.,
Rev. Eliphalet M. SPENCER, William B. CHRISTOPHER,
John B. KING, William BALDWIN, Geo. O. PHELPS, E.
Vine WALES, and Horace H. ALLEN, the present incumbent
of the pastoral office, who commenced his labors November, 1869.
The church edifice was enlarged and beautified in 1868,
and on April 23, 1869, was rededicated. In 1868 the society
was the recipient of a gift of $1000 from Collis P. HUNTINGTON,
Esq., of New York, with which was purchased an organ.
The church is now in a prosperous condition and annually
extends its sphere of usefulness.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL church.
This church was organized in 1830 by Rev. George
HANNOR, who was the preacher in charge of the circuit
which included Oneonta Plains, who at the solicitation of
David T. EVANS, of Oneonta, came to this place and formed
a class, of which David T. EVANS and David T. CLARKE were
leaders. Among the members of this class were Elias
BREWER, D. T. EVANS and wife, D. T. CLARKE and wife,
Jacob DEITZ, Esq., and wife, and Caleb POTTER and wife.
The first preacher who officiated for the new church was
Rev. George HANNOR, and his assistant, Rev. George ELLIOTT,
was the pastor in charge when the first house of worship was
erected in 1844. This building was erected at a cost of $1500.
The first settled pastor was Rev. W. C. McDONALD. Rev.
Edwin DENNISON was pastor in 1849 and 1850. Under the
pastoral charge of Charles ROBINSON, in 1854, a gracious
and extensive revival prevailed, which was the beginning of
a new era of prosperity. He was succeeded by W. G. QUEAL,
since the close of whose pastorate the following have served
the charge, in the order names, viz., S. M. STONE, D. L.
PENDELL, G. PARSONS, P. T. HUSTOR, Mr. VAN DUSEN,
R. W. PEEBLES, A. GRIFFIN, I. N. PARDEE, and W. B.
WESTLAKE, the present incumbent.
During the pastorate of Rev. Mr. VAN DUSEN, in 1865
or 1866, a movement was started for the erection of a new
church building, which resulted in the erection of the present
substantial edifice, which cost, together with the lot, the sum
of $10,000. The building was erected in 1868 and 1869,
during the pastorate of Rev. R. W. PEEBLES. The building
committee consisted of George REYNOLDS, J. P. VAN WEST,
and D. J. WAGER. The church was dedicated to the worship
of Almighty God, June 3, 1869, by the Rev. W. N. COBB,
the services being under the direction of that energetic worker,
Rev. B. I. IVES.
The present (1877) officers of the church are as follows:
Trustees.-George REYNOLDS, Henry WICKHAM, Ezra
McDOUGAL, M.D., M. H. BISSELL, and Reuben REYNOLDS.
Class Leaders.-George REYNOLDS, M. H. BISSELL, and
Stewards.-George REYNOLDS, T. K. MUSIER, William
EDWARDS, Randall RICHARDS, C. C. STEWART, John
YOUNGMAN, and Henry NASH.
Sunday-School Superintendents.-T. O. ADAMS and E.
The church is now in a prosperous condition, and has a
membership of two hundred and ninety-six persons.
FIRST BAPTIST church of Oneonta, N.Y.
Much of the early history of the church cannot be written.
Many an interesting incident has gone down to the grave with
those who were participants. The scanty and meagre records
that were kept of the doings of the early years of the church
hardly afford anything of value to the historian. The immediate
influences that led to the organization, the anxiety consequent,
and also the gladness of "the little flock," are among the
records, written only on hearts that have ceased to beat.
The church was organized on April 24, 1833, by a
council consisting of delegates from the following churches:
Milford, Huntsville (now Otego), West Meredith, Franklin,
and Laurens. On that occasion the Rev. Alexander SMITH,
of Franklin, was moderator, and Rev. Mr. KINGSLEY, clerk.
The church was constituted with a membership of
eighteen, of whom, as far as is known, only two are living,
viz., James SLADE and Nathaniel EDMONDS. The first
officers of the church were: Deacons, James SLADE,
David YAGER, and Hiram McCALL; and the first clerk
was Ira BABCOCK. Rev. D. B. CRANE was the first pastor.
Names of the constituent members are as follows: James
SLADE, David YAGER, John S. YAGER, Jacob YAGER,
Peter YAGER, Solomon YAGER, Henry L. MILLER,
Nathaniel EDMONDS, Ira BABCOCK, Polly YAGER,
Samantha SLADE, Sally YAGER, Emily YAGER, Catharine
MILLER, Catharine MILLER (2d), Phoebe BABCOCK,
Maria MILLER, Catharine YAGER.
The first church building was erected during the year of
1834. It was built upon the location now occupied by the
church, and though remodeled, has never been entirely
rebuilt. The cost of the building is not now known, neither
does the record show what services were held, nor who
participated when the church was dedicated.
Previous to the building of the church religious services
were held in what was known as the "old red school-house,"
which stood on what is now the corner of Broad and Main
The different pastors and the time served by each, are
as follows: Rev. D. B. CRANE, who was pastor about two
years; Rev. John SMITH, who became pastor December,
1835, and served the church until March, 1848, having
remained something more than twelve years; in June,
1848, Rev. Homer CLARK became pastor of the church,
and served the church for less than a year, being dismissed
March 11, 1849. From March until the middle of August
the church was without a pastor. On August 18, 1849,
the Rev. A. B. EARL became pastor, and served in that
connection for nearly four years, or until March 27, 1853.
From March, 1853, until January, 1854, the church was
again without a pastor. January 7, 1854, Erastus WESTCOTT
became pastor, and so served until July 12, 1857. From
July until February, 1858, the church was supplied by the
Rev. C. M. PATTENGILL. Rev. John SMITH became the
pastor of the church for the second time Feb. 13, 1858,
and so remained until March 11, 1865. Rev. A. REYNOLDS
became pastor June 11, 1865, and served the church until
Sept. 25, 1870. After the resignation of Rev. A. REYNOLDS,
the church was supplied by Rev. Mr. DORWOOD, ROGERS,
and others. Nov. 1, 1871, Rev. G. R. BURNSIDE became
pastor, and served until April 12, 1874. April 19, 1874,
H. BROTHERTON became pastor, and remains so up to date.
During the existence of the church there have been,
among other seasons of much special interest, four quite
extensive revivals of religion. In 1834, Rev. Lewis
RAYMOND assisted the pastor in a series of meetings, and,
as the result, twenty-nine were added to the church. In 1841,
Rev. John SMITH, pastor, Rev. Chancellor HARTSHORN,
assisting, quite an extensive revival occurred, and, as the
result, forty-nine joined the church. In 1849, during the first
year of Rev. A. B. EARL's pastorate with the church, another
extensive revival took place, and sixty-seven joined the
church. In 1865, Rev. A. REYNOLDS, pastor, eighty-eight
joined the church.
The present officers of the church are as follows: James
SLACK [SLADE], Samuel DERBY, D. W. FORD, and A. A.
WHITCOMB, deacons; D. W. FORD, clerk; Sylvester
FORD, treasurer. The church is in a prosperous condition,
and has a membership of two hundred and eleven.
ST. JAMES church.
The first Episcopal services in this village were held by
Rev. Andrew HULL, then in deacon's orders, in the year
1839, under a missionary appointment to Oneonta and Otego.
These services were held on alternate Sundays in the village
school-house of Oneonta, until a chapel was built by the
liberality of Mr. R. J. EMMONS and other members of the
congregation, aided, no doubt, in its need, as the congregation
has ever since been, by the ready gifts of their fellow-citizens.
The chapel was of small size, and so planned as to be
conveniently altered for a rectory as soon as a church could
be built on the vacant part of the lot. A few months from this
time, however, the mission became vacant by the resignation
of Mr. HULL, and the chapel, which was private property,
passed out of the hands of the congregation, and was used
for other purposes. In was in 1870 the property of Mr. E. R.
FORD, and occupied part of the site of the Central Hotel,
fronting the street leading to the depot of the Albany and
Bishop WAINWRIGHT, of the diocese of New York,
visited the mission in 1853, and also in 1854, but no
confirmations, if any took place, are recorded. In 1855 the
Rev. Stephens PARKER officiated for a few months. Ten
years later the Rev. Daniel S. TUTTLE, rector of Zion
church, Morris, held occasional services for two consecutive
years-1864 and 1865. In the latter year Oneonta was included
in the Otsego County mission, in charge of the Rev. E. N.
GODDARD, who officiated one year. In 1866 and 1867
the Rev. Mr. FOOTE officiated, in connection with Otego,
and in the same year the Rev. Mr. FERGUSON held services.
The four last clergymen mostly officiated in the house of
worship kindly lent to them by the Free-Will Baptist
On Friday, March 5, the bishop of Albany made his
first visitation to the mission, and confirmed three persons.
The congregation was organized as a mission, under the
canons of the diocese of Albany, by the name of St. James'
church, on the 7th day of April, in the year of our Lord 1870,
the bishop's consent having previously been given, and
the following officers appointed by him to serve one year:
Mr. John COPE to be warden, Dr. Meigs CASE to be
treasurer, and Mr. James COPE to be clerk.
The Rev. Mr. LIGHTHIPE was missionary, in charge from
April 3 to December 3, 1870, and on the last-named day the
bishop of Albany made his second visitation, and confirmed
one person. The Rev Mr. FITZGERALD, deacon, had
charge of the parish, after its incorporation, from July, 1873,
to February, 1874, under the direction of the Rev. Mr.
GODDARD, archdeacon of the Susquehanna, who took it
under his own care after the following Easter. The Rev.
James H. SMITH then became the resident missionary, and
continued his services until August 1, 1874, when the
charge was again resumed by the Rev. Mr. GODDARD, who
resigned December 31 of the same year, and was succeeded
by the Rev. Mr. FITZGERALD, who continued in charge until
a short time before the call of the present rector.
In April, 1871, the congregation was incorporated into a
parish, according to the laws of the State of New York, by
the name and title of "The Rector, Church-Wardens, and
Vestrymen of St. James' Church," and was received into
union with the convention of the diocese of Albany, on
the 4th day of January of the present year.
The number of confirmations on record by various bishops
is as follows: In 1839, presented by the Rev. Mr. HULL, 3;
in 1865, by the Rev. Mr. GODDARD, 4; in 1868, by the
Rev. Mr. FERGUSON, 5; in 1866, by the same, 3: in 1870,
by the Rev. Mr. LIGHTHIPE, 1; in 1871, by the Rev. Mr.
WASHBON, 10; by the Rev. Mr. JOY, 1; in 1874, by the
Rev. Mr. SMITH, 2; and at the last visitation of the bishop,
by the present rector, 4: the whole number being 35, of whom
32 were presented since 1864, and but three during the
thirteen previous years. [only totals 33 in book]
The rate of increase in communicants during most of
these years can now be accurately known only from the files
of the annual conventional journals of the diocese of New
York, or the private registers, if they have been preserved,
of the clergymen who have had the mission in charge.
In the journal of the diocese of Albany of 1875, 39
were reported by the Rev. Mr. GODDARD; in 1876, by the
present rector, 48; and 58 at the end of the last conventional
year, showing a steady increase.
The Rev. Robert WASHBON was the first rector of the
parish. He resigned Feb. 16, 1873, and to him and the
clergy of Otsego County mission the erection of the present
church edifice is chiefly due.
The second rector, the Rev. Mr. FITZGERALD, who first
opened the church for divine service, resigned July 17, 1875,
and was shortly afterwards succeeded by the present rector,
and from that time the morning and evening Sunday sessions
have been regularly held.
The estimated cost of the church property, in the unfinished
state in which it now is, including the value of the lot, which
was given by Mr. John COPE, has been, as nearly as it can
now be reached, about $10,000.
The SECOND FREE-WILL BAPTIST church of Oneonta is
located in the eastern part of the village of Oneonta, on the
corner of Maple and Main streets. The society was organized
Aug. 11, 1856, and on Feb. 25 of the same year a council,
consisting of Rev. A. WING, Rev. D. GREEN, Rev. O. T.
MOULTON, Joseph JENKS, and Henry MACKEY, organized
a church of sixteen members from the Oneonta Plains Free
Baptist church, now called the West Oneonta Free Baptist
church; which was done in accordance with a resolution
passed by the latter granting those members the privilege of
forming a new society.
The first pastor of the church was Rev. O. T. MOULTON,
who entered upon his pastorate in the spring of 1856, and
remained about three years. During his pastorate the society
erected a house of worship and a good number were added
to the church. The next pastor was Rev. Palmer STRICKLAND,
who was succeeded in 1864 by Rev. Ezra CROWELL, who
was pastor about three years, during which time, through his
efforts, three of the other churches in the village united with
his church in holding union services once a month alternately
with the four churches, which friendly association still
continues (1878), and in this way all are becoming better
acquainted with each other's ways and views. In the fall of
1867 the Rev. G. P. RAMSY became pastor, and preached
until 1871, when the Rev. O. T. MOULTON again became
pastor, officiating as such two years and six months, during
which time a parsonage was built. In the spring of 1875 Rev.
M. C. BROWN commenced his pastorate, and closed his labors
with the church Dec. 2, 1877.
The church joined the Otsego quarterly meeting of Free-
Will Baptists, and is one of eight churches that constitute
that quarterly meeting. The members of the church at present
number 68. Number attending Sabbath-school, 90.
The FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH of West Oneonta was
organized march 13, 1877, with a membership of 33, Rev.
Alanson THOMAS was the first pastor. The trustees were
E. R. WHITMAN, I. G. NORTHRUP, and Albert ROUSE;
deacons, A. W. BENTLEY and E. R. WHITMAN. This
church was recognized by council as a separate Baptist
church June 20, 1877.
The FREE-WILL BAPTIST church of WEST ONEONTA was
organized in about the year 1807, at Oneonta Plains, by Rev.
Gideon ELLIOTT, who became the first pastor. Among the
early members of the church were R. LAWRENCE, John
VAN WORT, Jane R. RICHARDS, Joseph HODGE, Ezra
GATES, A. GATES, and G. BABCOCK. The first church
edifice was erected in 1840, at Oneonta Plains, and in 1866
was removed to its present location, at a cost of about $800.
The following have served the church as pastors from its
organization to the present time, viz.: Revs. Gideon ELLIOTT,
two years; Mr. ROWLAND, two years; Mr. ELDRIDGE,
two years; L. CRANDALL, one year; Mr. LAGREYE, one
year; B. A. RUSSELL, one year; A. WING, six years; Wm.
HUNT, one year; M. SMITH, one year; E. C. DODGE,
twenty years; P. SCRAMLING, two years; H. BELDIN, one
year; G. MEEKER, two years; W. JOY, two years; T. A.
STEVENS, present pastor. The present officers are as
follows: Robt. COOK and Harman HURLBURT, deacons,
and J. S. SMITH, clerk. The church is now in a prosperous
condition, and has a membership of seventy persons. Mrs.
RICHARDS, one of the first members of the church, died
in 1877, and was buried on what would have been her
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