The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia

Church Histories



BREWSTER'S TAVERN EPISCOPAL church. The first church society that was ever formed in this town was the Protestant Episcopal, which was organized at Brewster's Tavern in 1799, with Rev. Daniel NASH as pastor. The church edifice was not erected until 1803. It stood north of the old elms, on the Colwell farm. Christopher COLWELL donated the lot. An old cemetery still marks the spot, and the names of many of the first settlers may be deciphered from the moss-covered tombstones. A neat iron railing incloses the remains of three of the FARNHAM family. John, Amasa, and Cyrus PRINGLE, Timothy HATCH, and Eben EDSON were some of the prominent Episcopalians.
The old church was taken down, and in 1832 the new St. Luke's, now standing in the village, was built. Ezra CAREY (father of Ezra CAREY, Jr. and Mrs. Wm. AUSTIN) was one of the prime movers in the enterprise. He was a successful and energetic business man, and gave freely for the support of the church. He died, in the prime of life, the day after the church was raised. Another prominent member was Aaron DOW, who died in 1833, and was the first person buried from the new church.*
*Rev. Edward PECKE, of Richfield Springs, now holds occasional services in this church.
BAPTIST church.
The old church on the hill west of the village was built, by the united efforts of the Presbyterians and Baptists, in 1804. They occupied it alternately for a time, but it was accidentally burned in 1822. Hon. James HYDE and brother were active and influential members of the Presbyterian church. The church was rebuilt by the Baptists near the centre of the village, where it now stands. The first ministers were Elders HURLBURT, HODGES, and BURCH. The present clergyman is Rev. Levi BURY.
The Congregational church of Richfield (now the First Presbyterian) was organized at a meeting of citizens of the town of Richfield, called at the house of Jared BREWSTER, in said town, in February, 1803, as the First Congregational society of Richfield. Jabez B. HYDE, Seth ALLEN, John WOODBURY, Obadiah BEARDSLEY, and Martin LUCE were the first trustees of said society.
On Sept. 12, 1803, a meeting was held at the house of Benjamin CORBIN, in Richfield, at which time this church had its regular ecclesiastical organization. Rev. James SOUTHWORTH, of Bridgewater, and Rev. John SPENCER, of Vernon, assisted at its organization. Ebenezer CURTIS was the first moderator and clerk, and Seth LUCE first delegate to the association.
The church society was not regularly incorporated until June 11, 1813, at which time the meeting was held (as appears in the minutes) in the "Congregational meeting-house," but when said house was built the record does not show. This house was destroyed by fire in 1822.* The present house of worship, situated in the village of Richfield Springs, was built about the year 1825, while Rev. Charles WADSWORTH was pastor of the church, who is also the first pastor mentioned in the records of the society. In May, 1844, the church withdrew from the Oneida association, and united with the Otsego presbytery on the accommodation plan, and continued in this relationship till 1868, when, at a meeting called for the purpose, on the 6th day of June, the members of the church resolved by a unanimous vote to change its name from Congregational to Presbyterian. The first ruling elders elected were H. C. WALTER, Wm. D. GRIFFIN, John DANA, and Robert HALL. The first deacons were John J. EDICK and Parson K. HOPKINS. The following are the names of the pastors of the church, as nearly as can be ascertained from the imperfect records, and also the time of their pastorate: Rev. Charles WADSWORTH, 1823 to 1830; Rev. D. VAN VALKENBURG, 1830 to 1844; Rev. W. C. BOYCE, 1844 to 1846; Rev. T. B. JERVIS, 1846 to 1852; Rev. Henry BOYNTON, as a temporary supply during the winter of 1852-53. * This church stood in the western part of Monticello village, near the cemetery.
Rev. Charles WADSWORTH, after an absence of about twenty-four years, returned in 1854, and remained till 1858. Mr. M. P. HILL, a student from Auburn seminary, supplied the pulpit during the summer months of 1858 and 1859. Rev. Andrew PARSONS, a student from Auburn seminary, was ordained by Otsego presbytery in June, 1860, and remained with the church as its pastor till the spring of 1866. Rev. F. H. SEELEY, a student from Auburn seminary, was ordained by Otsego presbytery in July, 1866, and immediately commenced his labors in this church, and is still its pastor. All the ministers mentioned in connection with this church, so far as known, are living at this date, except Rev. D. VAN VALKENBURG, who died, while pastor of the church in Springfield, Nov. 24, 1864, and now rests near the little church in this village, where for so many years his voice was heard proclaiming divine truth.
The chapel connected with this church was built in 1870, at a cost of $1500, which amount was bequeathed to the trustees of the society by the late Amasa ABBOTT, of Warren, Herkimer county, who died at the residence of his nephew, Allen BLOOMFIELD, Jan. 2, 1868, aged sixty-eight years and seven months.
In 1876 the trustees of this society removed the old structure and erected a new brick church on the same site, with a chapel attached, at a cost of $12,000. This church is capable of seating 500 persons, and is heated by a wood- furnace in the basement. A bell weighing 1569 pounds was presented to the society, in 1877, by E. R. COLLINS, Esq., formerly of Troy, N.Y. The present trustees are John E. DALPHIN, Martin GOSS, J. FRINK, N. GETMAN, P. K. HOPKINS, H. C. WALTER. Rev. F. H. SEELEY is still pastor of the church, 1878.
The FIRST UNIVERSALIST church. (From the records)
At a meeting of a number of the inhabitants of Richfield and the adjoining towns, convened, pursuant to previous public notice, at the house of Cornelius M. PAUL, in the town of Richfield, on May 23, 1833, for the purpose of organizing a Universalist society, organized by choosing the Rev. Jacob TODD moderator, and Tideman H. GORDON clerk. The object of the meeting was then stated from the chair, when a ballot was had, and Davis BROWN and Tideman H. GORDON were chosen to preside at this election, and to decide on the qualifications of voters. The meeting then proceeded to ballot for five trustees, and, on canvassing the votes, it appeared that Benjamin R. ELWOOD, James WILSON, George TUCKERMAN, Davis BROWN, and Moses WHEELER received a unanimous vote, and were duly elected. Tideman H. GORDON was elected clerk, and Benj. R. ELWOOD treasurer. The trustees were then classed as follows: first class, Davis BROWN, Moses WHEELER; second class, James WILSON, George TUCKERMAN; third class, Benj. R. ELWOOD. The church edifice of the society is a substantial stone structure, and was erected in the year 1833 on grounds presented to the society by Nathan DOW, Esq.
According to the records, Rev. Orrin ROBERTS, preached in this church two Sabbaths in each month, from April, 1834, to March, 1835, inclusive. Rev. L. C. BROWN preached one Sunday in each month, from April, 1835, to March, 1836, inclusive. Rev. T. J. SMITH engaged to preach one-half the time the ensuing year, commencing in the month of March, 1836. From 1837 to 1861 the following clergymen preached in this church at intervals, viz.: J. S. KIBBY, ----- BELDEN, J. H. TUTTLE, D. C. TOMLINSON, W. E. MANLEY. In the spring of 1862, Rev. S. R. WARD as called as the regular pastor of the church, in which capacity he continued to labor until April, 1873, when he was called to the Second Universalist church of Syracuse. During the pastoral labors of Mr. WARD the church edifice was greatly enlarged and beautified, at an outlay of $11,000. Rev. Mr. COOK, of Utica, was pastor in 1973. In the spring of 1877, Rev. S. R. WARD was again called to the pastorate of this church, and is at present its officiating clergyman. B. A. WEATHERBEE, Chas. WILBUR, Peter SEEBER, Allen BLOOMFIELD, and Isaac DELONG are the trustees.
St. John's church, Richfield Springs, Otsego Co., N.Y., was organized according to law Oct. 1, 1849. The Rev. Samuel G. APPLETON, rector of St. Luke's church, Richfield, N.Y. (Monticello), on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 23, 1849, at the residence of Geo. B. CARY, celebrated divine service, and gave public notice of the purpose to organize a parish in the village of Richfield Springs. A meeting was appointed to be held on October 1 next ensuing, in the same place where the service was held, to carry out said purpose. On Sunday morning, September 30th, the Rev. Mr. APPLETON again celebrated divine service at the residence of Mr. George B. CARY, and repeated the notice given on the previous Sunday. On Monday, Oct. 1, 1849, at three o'clock in the afternoon, a number of persons assembled in the house above mentioned and unanimously resolved to organize a parish in communion with the Protestant Episcopal church in the United States of America, under the name and title of Grace church. This resolution was afterwards reconsidered, and the name fixed as it at present continues,-St. John's church, Richfield Springs, N.Y. The officers elected at this time were John W. TUNNICLIFF, senior warden, and John CULBERT, junior warden. William HAYES, George B. CARY, Elias BRAMAN, Olcott C. CHAMBERLIN, Erastus S. BELKNAP, Charles DELONG, Price GRIFFITH, and Joshua WHITNEY vestrymen. At a meeting of the wardens and vestrymen, held on Oct. 8, 1849, at the residence of George B. CARY, a committee of five persons was appointed for the purpose of circulating a subscription paper to secure funds for the erection of a church building. A. TUNNICLIFF, J. W. TUNNICLIFF, E. BRAMAN, W. C. CRAIN, and G. B. CARY constituted this committee. On Wednesday morning, Aug. 21, 1850, at ten o'clock, the corner-stone of the present church building was laid with appropriate ceremonies, immediately after divine service, by the Rev. Stephen H. BATTIN, rector of Christ church, Cooperstown, N.Y. There were also present and assisting, the Rev. Joseph H. PRICE, D.D., of New York city, and the Rev. Robert DAVIS, of Philadelphia. The Rev. Samuel G. APPLETON having removed to Delhi, Delaware Co., N.Y., on April 7, 1851, the vestry met, and appointed J. S. DAVENPORT as a committee to go to New York and engage the Rev. Mr. CLEMENTS as rector of the parish. For some reason Mr. CLEMENTS did not accept the appointment. The Rev. Owen P. TAHCKARA, from the diocese of Maryland, became rector of the parish at some time during the spring or summer of 1851. The incorporation of the church was approved by the standing committee of the diocese during the year 1851, and the parish was received into union with the convention of the diocese. On Aug. 11, 1853, the present church edifice was duly consecrated to the worship of the Triune God by the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Mayhew WAINWRIGHT, D.D., D.C.I. On Aug. 3, 1854, Bishop WAINWRIGHT again visited the parish, preached, confirmed three, and addressed them; and in the afternoon presided at a meeting of the convocation of Delaware and Otsego counties.
Unfortunately there is no record preserved in the parish of the names of those confirmed at this time. Late in the year 1855 the Rev. Mr. THACKARA ceased to hold services in the church, and the Rev. James W. CAPEN succeeded him. Mr. CAPEN's stay, however, was very brief. In June, 1856, the Rev. Robert T. PEARSON took charge of the parish. On April 22, 1857, the Rev. Mr. THACKARA's resignation of the rectorship of the parish was accepted, and the Rev. Mr. PEARSON was duly elected rector in his place. On Aug. 7, 1856, the Rt. Rev. Horatio POTTER, D.D., LL.D., made his first visitation of the parish, preached, and administered the holy communion. To the annual convention of the diocese, held in September, 1857, the Rev. Mr. PEARSON made the first report ever made of the condition of the parish. There was then thirty-four families (about one hundred and fifty individuals) connected with the parish. The Sunday-school had two teachers and fifteen scholars. On July 31, 1858, the Rt. Rev. Bishop POTTER visited the parish, preached, and confirmed thirteen persons. In September of the same year the Rev. Mr. PEARSON records the number of communicants as twenty-eight. On Oct. 22, 1859, the Rev. Mr. PEARSON resigned the rectorship of the parish. The church was closed from that date until the first Sunday in May of the following year.
On May 2, 1860, the Rev. J. W. CAPEN was elected by the vestry as officiating minister until the vacancy in the rectorship should be filled. On Oct. 31, 1860, the Rev. Wm. J. ALGER was elected rector of the parish. Although Mr. ALGER accepted the call, there is no record of him having performed any duty in the parish at this time. On Friday, Aug. 2, 1861, the Rt. Rev. Bishop POTTER visited the parish, preached, and confirmed two (one of them in private). To the annual convention in September the senior warden reported as follows, viz.: "During the year we have been without a rector. During the last winter we have had no services, except on two or three Sundays. Rev. J. W. CAPEN returning home from Florida the last of May, has again supplied us with services as his health would permit. We have begun and will soon complete a very convenient and comfortable rectory." In 1862, the Rev. Charles L. SYKES took charge of the parish as missionary. On Sunday, July 26, 1863, the Rt. Rev. Bishop POTTER visited the parish, preached, ordained the Rev. C. L. SYKES priest, and confirmed two persons. On Sunday, July 31, 1864, the Rt. Rev. Bishop POTTER visited the parish, preached, and confirmed five persons.
On July 30, 1869, the Rev. C. L. SYKES resigned the rectorship of the parish. In May, 1870, the Rev. Joshua R. PEIRCE became rector of the parish, and continued in the rectorship until Oct. 1, 1872. At this time the present incumbent, the Rev. Edward M. PECKE, entered upon his duties as rector of the parish. During the twenty-four years of the existence of the parish, so far as can be ascertained, 110 persons have been baptized, 41 have been confirmed, 60 have been married, and 45 have been buried. Connected with the parish at the present time there are 46 families, including about 175 individuals. The number of communicants is 42. The Sunday-school numbers 35 children and 5 teachers.
The parish property consists of the church building (seating about 200 people, altogether inadequate to the wants of the worshipers in the summer season), and the lot upon which it stands; also a rectory opposite the church, with a large lot of ground around it; a bell, an organ, and all the appointments for a due performance of Divine service. The present officers are as follows: N. D. JEWEL, M.D., V. MARTIN, wardens; W. B. CRAIN, J. S. DAVENPORT, J. A. STORER, A. C. COLE, W. A. SMITH, and J. F. GETMAN, vestrymen. -----
This church society was incorporated in 1853, with a membership of about 25. It was at this time a mission station or branch of the church at Cooperstown. The trustees were Patrick WELDON, James NELLIS, and William BURKE.
The first services of the society were held in the district school-house, and at private residences of the members. In the year 1870 the present church edifice was completed at a cost of $3500, and dedicated to the worship of God by the Rev. M. C. DEVITT, of Cooperstown. The membership in 1873 was 200. The dimensions of the church are 32 by 60 feet. It is situated on the north side of Canadarago street. The oldest member of the church at this time is Mrs. Bridget KING, aged ninety-two years. The trustees are William BURKE and Patrick LANGDON.
Previous to the year 1871 there was no organized society of Methodists in this village. There were in the vicinity several small chapels where services were occasionally held by Methodist ministers or circuit-riders. In what are known as the "old Warren meeting-house" and the "old Columbia meeting-house," the former one mile, and the latter six miles distant from the village, Methodist services had been occasionally held for very many years; and in their secluded grave-yards scores of wearied travelers are peacefully sleeping in the shadows of the humble building in which it had been their delight to gather. At the hamlet of Little Lakes, in Warren, three miles distant, was a pretty little church under the charge of a regular pastor, the Rev. Mr. STANTON. The eagerness with which the people flocked to these little churches whenever services were held in them, showed that in this vicinity were all the elements necessary for the formation of an active, vigorous society. The First Methodist Episcopal church of Richfield Springs was incorporated May 29, 1871, and the following board of trustees was chosen, viz.: George B. CARY, Josiah HOUSE, Lewis McCREDY, Samuel B. ST. JOHN, Hiram GETMAN, Hiram L. FAY, Timothy GREEN, Ezra W. BADGER, and Cornelius ACKERMAN. Rev. O. C. WIGHTMAN, of Mohawk, who with his congregation had just built a handsome new church at that place, was assigned to this charge, and at once entered upon his duties. The society entered heart and soul into the project for the building of the new church, worshiping meanwhile in Union hall, their meetings being uniformly well attended.
April 1, 1872, a lot was purchased on the corner of Main and Manley streets, for which $2000 was paid. The corner- stone of the new church was laid Aug. 20, 1872, in the presence of a large concourse of people, with appropriate ceremonies. The building committee consisted of the following gentlemen: Ezra W. BADGER, chairman, George B. CARY, and Hiram L. FAY. The building is of brick, 45 by 75 feet, with chancel in the rear 6 by 17 feet, and has one tower 120 feet in height, in which has just been placed a fine bell costing $550. There is also a fine, large, and well-lighted basement for the Sunday-school and chapel purposes. The total cost of the church, including the lot, is about $17,000. The dedication occurred on Tuesday, Jan. 6 ,1874. The services were opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. SHEPARD, of Ilion, after which a hymn was read by the Rev. O. C. WIGHTMAN. The doxology was sung by the Richfield choir. The Rev. B. I. IVES, of Auburn, then preached an eloquent sermon from Matt. v. 16, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." The amount of indebtedness remaining on the church ($10,600) was promptly subscribed by those present. The Messrs. REMINGTON, of Ilion, gave the magnificent sum of $3000 in various ways, and they have heretofore helped the church by loaning them money without interest, and otherwise laid the society under lasting obligations to them, which they gratefully acknowledge. This church is indeed an ornament to our village, and of which we may justly as a community feel proud. Among the clergymen of the Methodist Episcopal church present were Rev. Mr. CORSE, presiding elder; Rev. B. I. IVES, of Auburn; Rev. A. G. MARKHAM, pastor of the church; Rev. A. B. GREGG, of Jordon; Rev. O. C. WIGHTMAN, former pastor, now of Forestport, Oneida county, and Rev. Mr. SHEPARD, of Ilion. The present officers of the church are as follows: G. B. CARY, E. W. BADGER, A. K. GOODIER, C. ACKERMAN, J. C. BUSH, William HASKELL, L. F. BROWN, Edwin LOOMIS, and J. HOUSE, trustees; pastor, Rev. J. V. FURGESON.

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