Samuel W Durant.

History of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 90 of 192)
Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 90 of 192)
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the " pledge and envelope system," as well as free-will
offerings at the offertory.

The organization of the parish and the building of the
edifice were under the rectorship of the Rev. Dr. W. T. Gib-
son, then editor of the Gospel Messenger. He was succeeded,
in 1866, by the Rev. S. F. Jarvis, of Connecticut, who was
soon followed by the Rev. E. W. Hager, and the latter
leaving in 1873, and receiving the appointment of chaplain
in the United States Navy, the parish was resumed by the
Rev. Dr. Gibson, who still retains it, his connection with
the Gospel Messenger having ceased in 1 872.

If the name of any one layman should be singled out as
coupled with this enterprise it should be that of the late
Francis Ramsdell, who not only gave most largely of his
moderate means, but also devoted his time and personal
labor to the work from the day of the laying of the corner-
stone to its completion.

ST. Luke's memorial church (episcopal).

St. Luke's Memorial Church began as a mission of Grace
parish in Advent, 18G9, in >• room fitted up for services,
in St. Luke's Home for Aged Women. The services were
continued there till a permanent church building became a
necessity. The corner-stone of the present beautiful struc-
ture was laid on the 5th of July, 1873. Services were
held in the basement of the new building the following
Christmas, and it was consecrated, complete in all its ap-
pointments, and fi'ee from debt, St. Luke's day, Oct. 18,
1876. St. Luke's parish has gathered a congregation of
devoted people, more than enough to fill the present build-
ing. It is hoped soon in the future to enlarge and make
room for all who may choose to come. Till the summer of
1876 the parish was served by the assistant minister of
Grace Church, but since that time it has had a minister of
its own, whose title is the Associate Rector of St. Luke's
Memorial Church.

The present officers of the parish are as follows : Asso-
ciate Rector, Bernard Schulte ; Wardens, A. S. Goodwin,
Joseph L. Hobson ; Vestrymen, Henry Hopson, Horatio
Seymour, Jr., Richard W. Oastler, Joseph R. Swan, Jona-
than Ancock, Joshua Moore, Leonard Donsbach, Thomas
B. Johnston.

The parish is carried on by the free-seat system, and is
supported wholly by subscription and the offertory. Its
hours of services are as follows : Sundays, Holy Commu-
nion, 8.30 A.M. ; Morning Prayer and Sermon, 10.30 a.m. ;
Sunday-school, 2.30 p.m. ; Bible-Class, 3 p.m. ; Evening
Prayer and Sermon, 7.30 p.m. ; Wednesday Evening Lec-
ture, 7.30 P.M.

St. Luke's Home and Hospital are charitable institutions,
carried on by the church people of Ulica, intended to fur-
nish homes and treatment for the aged and the sick, and are
managed by a board of trustees of gentlemen, and a board
of 12 lady almoners for the home, and 12 or more lady
managers for the hospital. The physicians of the city give
their services constantly without charge.


This church was organized in the year 1801, and is the
oldest church belonging to any denomination, of any nation



and language, in the city, and also the oldest Welsh church
now existing belonging to the denomination in the counti-y.
Although there was preaching occasionally at Whites-
town as early as 1794, — perhaps eai-lier, — there was no
church organized as yet at Old Fort Schuyler, as this place
was then called. About the years 1799, 1800, and 1801,
many Welsh Baptists arrived here from the principality of
Wales, and, according to the custom of the religious people
of this nation, they immediately commenced to hold religious
services in their own language, and they prospered so marvel-
ously that they soon determined to form tliemselves into a
Christian Church. On the 12th day of September, 1801,
this small band of disciples met in the log house of one of
their number, Brother John Williams, where they organized
as a regular Baptist Church. Their number then was only

This John Williams was living about one mile out of the
then village, and near the spot where the present State
Lunatic Asylum stands. The country was new, the houses
were few and scattered, and built in the cheapest manner
that the straitened circumstances of the times demanded.
The population also was sparse ; but the Welsh element was
strong, and becoming stronger every year, impressing its
characteristics upon and moulding the formation of the
young colony.

At this point we find the church fully organized with its
first officers. The names of the first deacons were Joseph
Haines and David Reed. Little is known of its history
during the first five years ; but in the year 1806 the young
church ibund itself strong enough to build a house of
worship. A lot was bought, upon which a house was
soon erected, in which the society worshiped regularly until
the year 1817, — the year the Erie Canal was begun; but as
the house stood on the site of the present Hotel Street, and
on the line of the canal, they were obliged to remove its
location to Broadway, where it still remains.

On the 23d of September, 1819, seventeen members were
dismissed from the Welsh Church to form the Broadway
(English) Church, now the Tabernacle, which has become
a large, influential, and wealthy congregation.

In the same year that this church was built, the first
trustees were elected, and the account reads as follows :

" This certifies that the subscribers, who were chosen as returning
officers, at a meeting notified and assembled according to law, for the
purpose of establishing a religious society in the village of Utica,
N. Y., do hereby certify that Abraham Williams and William Francis
were duly elected trustees of the society, and that the said society
shall be known by the name of the First Welsh Baptist Church in
Utica. Witness our hands and seals, this 23d day of June, 1806.

"Dasiel James,
"John Adams."

The church has enjoyed the benefit of the services of
some of the most eminent ministers of the denomination,
and their ministry was greatly blessed in conversion of
souls; and during powerful revivals in the city, especially
the one jn 1838, its membership was largely increased. At
present the number is comparatively small, for the reason
that the Welsh language is losing its hold upon the rising
generation, and immigration from the mother-country to
these parts is almost entirely suspended. Still, the society
is energetic and full of faith, keeping its regular services in

the same old language, and enjoying the ministry of their
pastor, Rev. J. Edred Jones, who has occupied the pulpit
for a number of years.


Near the close of the year 1819, on motion of John
Gray, the First Baptist Church, being a Welsh church,
voted their cordial approbation to those of the church de-
siring to unite themselves in covenant for the purpose of
forming an English church, calling it the Second Baptist
Church. The brethren and sisters proposing to form a
second church met together and voted unanimously to call
Rev. Elijah F. Willey, of Lansingburg, N. Y., to the pas-
torate. He commenced his labors on the second Sunday
in November, 1819. They immediately went to work to
build a meeting-house. A lot was purchased on Broad
Street 50 by 120 feet, and a comfortable frame house of
worship was built, capable of seating about 400. Rev.
Elijah F. Willey continued his services until December,
1826. To him was the church indebted for its earliest
prosperity. After him came in succession Reverends John
Harrison, William Hague, D.D., Elon Galusha, Edward
Kingsford, Thomas Wilkes, Daniel Eldridge, Dudley C.
Haynes, and Horatio N. Loring.

In 1847 the church and society, believing that the old
house was not adequate to their use, with great unanimity
and liberality entered upon the erection of a new brick
house on the site of the old one. Sunday, January 23,
1848, services were held in the vestry. Profassor George
W. Eaton, D.D., of Madison University, preached morning
and afternoon.

Rev. Edmund Turney accepted a unanimous call to the
pastorate, entering upon its duties July 23, 1848. He con-
tinued to serve the church until June, 1850, when he re-
signed. Thursday, Sept. 28, 1848, the now brick edifice,
being completed, was dedicated to God. Rev. Thomas 0.
Lincoln, D.D., was called to the pastorate in October, 1850,
and served as pastor almost eleven years. Rev. Nehemiah
M. Perkins accepted a unanimous call to the pastorate, and
commenced his labors Lord's-day morning, Oct. 13, 1861,
and resigned his pastorate in August, 1863. He died at
Monroe, Conn., Aug. 20, 1863. In June, 1864, the church
and society voted to vacate their house of worship and re-
move to a more central location. The United States court
room, in the city hall, was secured to worship in until a
new house could be erected.

Rev. Alfred S. Patton, of Watertown, Mass., accepted a
unanimous call to the pastorate, and entered upon his pas-
toral duties Sunday morning, July 24, 1864. He closed his
labors with the church June 30, 1872.

At a regular meeting of the church and society held
Oet. 11, 1864, it was voted unanimously to assume the
name of " Tabernacle Baptist Church."

Thursday, Aug. 3, 1865, was the day designated for the
ceremony of laying the corner-stone of the new church.
At the appointed time, six o'clock p.m., there was a very
lar"-e concourse of people present to witness the ceremony.
The exercises were opened by the pastor, Alfred S. Pat-
ton, D.D., by reading a hymn. Prayer was offered by
Rev. Dr. Campbell, of the Westminster Church. The



pastor then read portions of Scripture, following the same
with brief comments. Rev. Dr. Vermiiye, of the Reformed
Church, made a very happy address. Rev. J. H. Ken-
nard, D.D., of Philadelphia, also delivered an address,
which was listened to with great interest. Thursday, Sept.
13, 1866, the new stone edifice was dedicated to God, with
impressive exercises.

Rev. N. Reed Everts accepted a call, which was unani-
mous, to the pastorate, and began his labors Lord's-day
morning, Feb. 2, 1873. He tendered his resignation re-
cently, which was to take effect in October of the present

The present officers of the church are : Deacons, Dolphus
Bennett, Ira D. Hopkins, Joshua Tavender, Clark Wood,
Owen Eynon ; Clerk, I. D. Hopkins ; Treasurer, Smith
Oatley ; Superintendent of the Sunday-school, George C.
Horton ; Librarian, George Brand ; Secretary and Trea-
surer, William Paddon.


The church on Columbia Street known as the Ebenezer
Baptist was organized about the year 1835. During a
pastorate that extended over a period of forty years, Eider :
Thomas Hill was its faithful pastor. The present pastor
in charge is Rev. Silas H. Durand, who visits the church
once in two months, the distance between Utica and his
home rendering it impossible for him to officiate oftener.
The pulpit is frequently supplied during his absence, and
the church is open every Sabbath. The deacons are R.
Alexander and Jacob Schactel, and the clerk J. M. Boose.
There are also six trustees connected with the church or-


Just at the close of the last century, and beginning of
the present, when Utica was but a small village, a company
of Christians, sustaining different ecclesiastical relations,
established religious worship. They met in the school-
house of the place, located on Maine Street. But there was
no regularly organized Christian church until 1801. This
church was founded Sept. 12 of that year, and was com-
posed of twenty-two Welsh Baptists, who had recently
emigrated from Wales. It was not only the first Baptist
church, but the first church of Utica. They met in a log
house on Varick Street, near the Globe Mills. In 1806 they
erected a chapel on Hotel Street, on ground now occupied
by the Erie Canal. This building was subsequently re-
moved, and in time gave way to a more convenient house
of worship. In 1819, seventeen persons wei^fe dismissed
from this church to form the Second Baptist Church of
Utica, located on Broad Street. The reason assigned for
this step was ignorance of the Welsh language. In 1837,
Dec. 3, the Second Church (now the Tabernacle Baptist
Church of this city) appointed a committee to superintend
religious worship in West Utica until the following May.

On the 21st of March, 1838, eleven persons met in the
private dwelling of Edward Bright, to effect a permanent
Baptist organization. They resolved to be known as " The
Bethel Baptist Church of Utica." The name was sug-

"*■ Data furnished by the pastor.

gested by the fact that the Presbyterian Church, who
formerly occupied the building, were connected with the
Bethel Society, and devoted more or less labor to the wel-
fare of boatmen on our canal. It was also their purpose to
prosecute the same work, which they did for a number of

Such was the origin of the society known at present as
the " Bleecker Street Baptist Church."

During the first year of their existence they entered
upon the work of building a new house of worship on
State Street, now occupied by our Methodist brethren.
That house was dedicated Aug. 7, 1839, nearly a year and
a half after the organization of the church. After wor-
shiping in State Street a little over three years, the church
called Rev. D. G. Corey, D.D., to its pastorate, who has
continued his relations with them to the present time.
Two pastors preceded him.

Rev. L. O. Lovell entered upon his labors Oct. 1, 1838,
and resigned Jan. 27, 1840. Rev. Edward Bright, who
was licensed to preach by the church, became its pastor
Jan. 3, 1840, and resigned Nov. 12, 1841.

It being deemed expedient to change the location, the
present edifice was occupied at an annual rental of $420.
At the expiration of two years a subscription was raised,
with a view to purchasing the building, which resulted in
its transfer to the society, at a cost of 16420. The present
membership is 500. Its present Deacons are W. H. Scran-
ton, William B. Walling, John Ryals, J. C. Bailey, Isaac
Ryals, John Eynon; Church Clerk, John Ryals; Treas-
urer, John Roberts.

The Sunday-school numbers 250 members, the officers
being: Superintendent, S. U. Cookinham ; Assistant Super-
intendent, C. H. Rose ; Treasurer, W. J. Fralick ; Secre-
tary, Geo. J. Whiffen.


In 1786 the Rev. James Carr, a Presbyterian minister
from New Jersey, commenced public worship and preaching
at Whitesboro'. In 1794 a church was organized there
under the name of " The United Congregation of Whites-
town." August 21 of that year the Rev. Bethuel Dodd
was installed its pastor, it being stipulated that he should
officiate two-thirds of the time in Whitesboro' and one-
third in Utica, each place contributing to his support in
proportion to the amount of his services it received. After
a few months the arrangement was abandoned because no
place for meetings could be secured here. In 1797 it was
renewed, and Mr. Dodd regularly ministered to the people
until his death, April 12, 1804. The congregation in
Utica was incorporated as a distinct society Nov. 15,
1805, and Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, Erastus Clark, Tal-
cott Camp, Apollos Cooper, Benjamin Ballon, Jr., Benja-
min Plant, John C. Hoyt, Nathaniel Butler, and Solomon
P. Goodrich were chosen the first trustees. The communi-
cants of the church were separated into the two churches
of Whitesboro' and Utica, Feb. 3, 1813, 57 constituting
the latter ; and among thom were four elders, — Stephen
Potter, Ebenezer Dodd, William Williams, and Nathaniel

t Data furnished by the pastor.



The Rev. Jame,s Carnahan, D.D., LL.D., subsequently
and until his death President of the College of New Jer-
sey, Princeton, was settled over the one church, but two
societies, Jan. 2, 1805, and preached alternately in both
towns until Oct. 25, 1812, when infirm health obliged
him to leave. Feb. 4, 1814, the Rev. Henry Dwight was
called to the church in Utica, Und about the same time
Rev. John Frost was called to the church in Whitesboro'.
These clergymen preached half the time in each other's
pulpits until Oct. 1, 1817, when the entire failure of his
voice compelled Mr. Dwight to cease public speaking.
The Rev. Samuel C. Aiken, D.D., then a licentiate, en-
tered on the pastorate of the church in Utica Feb. 4,
1818, and removed to Cleveland, Ohio, May, 1835. He
was succeeded, May 9, 1836, by the Rev. John W. Fowler,
previously of Binghamton, who retired June 15, 1841 ;
by Rev. Charles S. Porter, previously of New York, March
23, 1842, and who left Jan. 13, 1844, and recently de-
ceased at South Boston ; by Rev. William H. Spencer,
then a licentiate, Jan. 13, 1844, who removed to Milwau-
kee Sept. 24, 1850, and afterwards accepted the secretary-
ship of the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, and
died pastor of the Westminster Church, Chicago; and by
the Rev. Philemon H. Fowler, D.D., previously of the
Second Church, Washington, D. C, and of the First
Church, Elmira, N. Y., who began his labors here Jan. 1,
1851, and was installed Feb. 10, 1851.

Rev. Samuel P. Sprecher, of the First Lutheran Church
of Albany, N. Y., was called April, 1872, as co-pastor, and
Feb. 4, 1874, Dr. Fowler formally dissolved his relations
with the church. The present membership is 715, and
the following elders and deacons arc at present in office :
Elders, M. H. Griffiths, Henry C. Beare, John B. Wells,
Robt. S. Williams, Edwin Hunt, William S. Taylor, Fran-
cis M. Burdick, Norman A. Williams, Chas. C. Kel-
logg ; Deacons, Hudson Bidwell, Thomas Davies, Legrand

The Sunday-school is in a prosperous condition, its
present roll numbering 425 members. The Superintendent
is M. H. Griffiths ; First A.ssistant, Francis M. Burdick ; and
the Female Superintendent, Mrs. Mary W. Bussy ; Henry
G. Estes is the Librarian. The church is entirely free of
debt, a late indebtedness of §4000 having been canceled
during the present year. In 1807 the church completed
its first house of worship, of wood, and occupied it nearly
twenty years.

Subsequently the society erected on Washington Street,
below Liberty, a large and beautiful edifice, which was de-
stroyed by fire on the night of Jan. 12, 1851. This struc-
ture was one of the most elegant in the city, and was erected
at a cost of $30,000, and contained an organ valued at $4000,
which was also destroyed. The same year the present edi-
fice upon the northwest corner of Washington and Columbia
Streets was begun, and since its completion the society have
worshiped within its walls.

It was determined in the fall of 1866 by the First
Presbyterian Church to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary
of its Sunday-school. For this purpose a committee of
arrangements was appointed, and a circular of invitation
issued. The exercises were held at the city hall, on Sat-

urday evening, October 20, beginning at eight o'clock.
Everything was planned and conducted on a scale of liber-
ality befitting the dignity of the occasion. Religious
ceremonies appropriate to the event were also conducted
the following Sabbath.

Addresses were delivered by Judge Bacon, Robert B.
Shepard, William Tracy, Hovey K. Clark, Gurdon Bur-
chard, Thomas W. Seward, P. Harwood Vernon, Samuel
E. Warner, John F. Seymour, Prof. Anson J. Upson, and
Rev. Edward Bright.

The occasion was one of the most interesting in the
history of the church.


The organization of the Westminster Church, in the city
of Utica, seemed to be a necessity growing out of the some-
what peculiar and disturbed condition of church relations
existing at that time. The fact of its organization was due
rather to the appreciation of this condition by persons re-
siding abroad, than to any incipient measures to this end
taken by those living in this community.

In September, 1843, Rev. Joshua H. McUvaine, then
preaching at Little Falls, N. Y.,gave public notice that he
would hold Sabbath services in the then unoccupied build-
ing now used as a place of worship by the Bleecker Street
Baptist Church.

As soon as a congregation was gathered, a Sabbath-school
was started, which in less than two months numbered two
hundred and fifty children and thirty teachers, which was
superintended by Rev. Mr. McUvaine, and by whom the
necessary funds were raised, mostly from the teachers, to
carry it on.

The services thus begun in September, 1843, were regu-
larly continued, with increasing success, until July 23,
1844, when " The Westminster Presbyterian Society of-
Utica" was formally organized, with sixty-one persons for
its membership, and with the installation of Rev. Mr.
McUvaine as its pastor. Soon after this the church build-
ing owned by the Universalist Society, on Devereux Street,
was purchased, and immediately occupied by this new
church and congregation. On Sept. 3, 1847, the connec-
tion between pastor and people was terminated by the
resignatiou of Rev. Mr. McUvaine.

The Rev. H. S. Dickson, of Philadelphia, was chosen
the second pastor of this church ; entering upon his duties
Aug. 1, 1848, he was installed Oct. 31, in the same year.
The membership at this time was about one hundred. The
period of his pastorate was an eventful one. The church
building on Devereux Street was materially enlarged and
improved in 1849 ; a few years later it was totally destroyed
by fire, leaving his congregation without a place for wor-
ship. During the temporary occupation of the court-house
for Sabbath and other services, the active business qualifi-
cations of the Rev. Mr. Dickson were employed in devising
and executing plans for the erection of its present beautiful
church building at the head of Washington Street, which
was completed and occupied early in 1855. This was u
great undertaking for this new and, as respects numbers,
comparatively feeble church. But by the persistence and
enthusiasm of both pastor and people, all difficulties were



overcome, and the sum of nearly |35,000 was provided
with which to purchase the site and erect this new place of

During a pastorate of about ten years of active and
practical labor, in which period Dr. Dickson had endeared
him.self to all by his kindly social and Christian graces, he
offered his resignation, which was most reluctantly accepted.

In June, 1 858, the Rev. Samuel M. Campbell was elected
the third pastor, and duly installed over a church having a
membership of about two hundred and thirty. During his
pastorate the church was welded together, and made more

Under this pastorate, also, Mr. Briggs W. Thomas, one
of the oldest and most respected members of this church,
generously provided a convenient and commodious building
on Francis Street, for the Olivet Mission School.

The Rev. Dr. Fisher, President of Hamilton College,
accepted the invitation of the session to supply its pulpit
upon the Sabbath, and for some months regularly preached
to this people.

Dr. Fisher, resigning the presidency of Hamilton College,
was elected pastor on the 8th of May, 1866 ; the call was
accepted June 11, and the installation services occurred on
Nov. 15 of the same year. The sermon was preached by
Dr. Mcllvaine, the first pastor, and the charge to the pastor
elect was made by Rev. Dr. Fowler, of the First Presby-
terian Church of Utica. The church at this time con-
tained about 280 members.

Dr. Fisher's ill health suddenly terminated his labors
among his people, and Rev. Thomas J. Brown, of Philadel-
phia, having accepted a call, entered upon his duties on the
30th of April, 1871, and was installed, on the 11th of Oc-
tober following, over a church then having about 365

The present membership of Westminster Church is nearly
600, and the number of scholars upon the Sabbath-school
rolls 700. The present Elders are Dr. L. B. Wells, Daniel
Waterman, George E. Allen, H. H. Curtiss, Timothy Par-
ker ; Superintendent of the Sunday-school, H. H. Coopqr ;
Assistant, J. B. Sherwood.


The Olivet Mission, located on Miller Street, is a growth
of the Westminster Church, and is supported by that con-
gregation. It has been in existence for several years, and
the beneficial results of the work are so apparent as to give
great encouragement to those engaged in the mission. The
Sabbath-school was at first held in an old building rented

Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 90 of 192)