The History of Otsego County, New York
D. Hamilton Hurd
Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia
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.
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
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
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,
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
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
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.
The CATHOLIC (ST. JOSEPH'S) church.
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
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.
The FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
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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