The Reverend Mr. David Craft
In 1837, Isaac D. Jones gathered the scattered Baptists on and near the lower end of Towanda creek, by forming "Franklin & Monroe" church. The Monroe members became a branch in 1838. In 1840 they divided, and "Monroe" joined Bradford association, with 37 members. In 1841, took the name "Monroe & Towanda". In 1846, Towanda became a separate church. September 18, 1869, the deacons and most of the members having removed from Monroeton, the remaining member (last reported at 30 on the book) voted to disband. Under Elder Spratt’s pastorate, they secured a parsonage between the villages of Towanda and Monroe, which was sold on hid removal, and in 1855 they bought the former Universalist meeting house, in Monroeton, for $1200. Upon disbanding they sold the meeting-house for $900, and paid the proceeds on the meeting-house repairs in Towanda. During the thirty years’ separate existence of Baptist meeting in Monroeton, they had 57 additions by baptism in 1843, 19 in 1855, and others, making 129 in all, which, with 95 received in other modes, made a total of 261 different members. After some of the revivals, having no meeting-house or resident pastor, some of the converts united with other denominations.
The following preachers served Monroeton and vicinity as pastors or supplies: Isaac D. Jones, George M. Spratt, Jesse B. Saxton (now in Vacaville, Cal.); George W. Stone, Wm. H. King (now D.D., of Owego, N.Y.), Jacob Kennedy (ordained in Tioga, Pa., 1848, member of legislature, and chaplain House of Representatives, 1867, died in Eaton, 1869, aged forty-seven), Joseph R. Morris, William Sym (now D.D. near Binghamton), Nathan Callender (now at Green Grove, Pa.), Increase Child (ordained 1859, now in Conneaut, Ohio), S.G. Keim. Robert Dunlap (now in Newcastle, Pa.), Charles R. Levering, and Benjamin Jones. Others aided in protracted efforts, etc., as H. C. Coombs, in 1840, E.A. Francis, in 1855.
Deacons - Wm. Lewis, Capt. Timothy Alden (died 1860, aged ninety), James Elliott, S. White, David Waltman, Joseph Homet.
Clerks - Adonijah Taylor, James C. Ridgeway.
The Baptist interest in the county-seat was identified with that at Monroeton until Oct. 14, 1846, when 26 members, mostly from Monroe & Towanda, became a separate church. It joined Bradford association in 1847, with 30 members. While with Monroe, Pastor Spratt, at great sacrifices, had built a brick meeting-house in Towanda, which was "finished and nearly paid for" in 1845. An alteration in the grade of the street compelled a remodeling at a cost of an additional $4000. Deacon Elliott and Capt. C.M. Manville took the lead in the work, which was completed in November, 1875. The church had secured a parsonage in 1866.
The largest accessions by baptism were 17 in 1851, 15 in 1861, 12 in 1865, 50 in 1870, 17 in 1871 - total baptized, 135; and 268 different members, in thirty-one years.
Pastors or supplies, mostly the same as at Monroe; also Wm. N. Wyeth, 1856 (since ordained, now in Indianapolis); Sylvester J. Lusk, 1869 to 1874 (now in Howard, N.Y.); Thomas A. Edwards, 1876 (now in Groton, N.Y.)
Deacons - J. Elliott, Edwin Hurlburt, William Bramhall, Raymond M. Welles, Geo. H. Wood.
Clerks - E. Hurlburt, J.H. Weed, N.C. Tompkins, Stephen V. Shipman, J. Yaw, J. Allen Record, R.M. Welles, G.H. Wood.
South Creek Church
Joined Bradford association in 1840, with 24 members - 17 newly baptized, and some from Columbia & Wells. In 1843, aided in forming the Chemung River association. In August, 1858, dedicated a meeting-house at Gillett’s Station, and Oct. 7, 1877, entered the second house at the same place. Received 30 by baptism in 1853, 13 in 1859, 14 in 1871, 18 in 1873 - in all, 132, and a total of 195 members, in thirty-seven years (five of them not reported).
The pastors or supplies have been James H. Noble, E.A. Hadley (died in Dix, N.Y., 1867, aged fifty-eight), D.T. Lockwood, J. Kitchell, L. Lowe, I.B. Lake, T. Mitchell, and Levi Stone (Gillett’s P.O.) since 1864.
Deacons - Asa Gillett (died 1863, aged seventy-four), John F. Gillett, E.C. Andrus.
Clerks - A. Gillette, Samuel Pettingill, J.F. Gillett.
This church was in a destitute region, partly in the north end of south Creek, as supposed. It was formed in February, 1858, with 8 members, was represented in Chemung River association until 1862, four years, and was last reported with 23 members. It had 10 baptisms and 16 other additions; total, 35. Pastors, Isaac J. Hoile and J. Gray. Philo Fassett (Wellsburg), D.H. Gillett, and Geo. Dunham (Elmira), clerks. Other messengers, Deacon Andrews, J.Q.A. Fassett, and ---- Love.
The church at Wellsburg had an outpost in this township as early as 1829. The church joined Bradford association in 1841 with 20 members. Reported 12 baptized in 1843, 18 in 1853, and a total of 46. With five years unreported, its twenty years of travel had over 100 persons in membership. They built a meeting-house on Bentley creek, in 1845-46. The church had 29 members in 1860, and was dropped in 1863. In 1877, Pastor Everett, of Smithfield, held meetings in a house at Pennyville, and has baptized 15 as a branch of Smithfield church. Many Irish Catholics have moved in, and we know of no other Protestant meeting in the township.
The pastors at Ridgebury have been E. Bennett, E.A. Hadley, Nathaniel Ripley (now in Masonville, N.Y.), Dan A. Gillett (here ordained, and still a resident, but not in the ministry), and J.M. Cooley.
Deacons - D.A. Gillett, F. Wilcox, Abial Fuller (died 1867, aged eighty).
Clerks - D.A. Gillett, Nathaniel Graves, Peter A. Evans.
Other messengers - Inman, Otterson, Samuel Gates (died 1869, aged sixty-eight), Brigham, Dewey, Covell. Alpheus Gillett, a soldier of the Revolution (died in 1841, aged eighty-one years), lies buried with brother-soldiers and brother-members, pioneers, at Wellsburg.
First called "Second Troy," mostly from Troy, joined Bradford association in 1842, with 12 members. There were 3 baptized, and a total of 20 members as far as reported. It was feebly sustained, and in 1855 was reported dissolved, having 9 members. Myron Rockwell preached, and also James P. Burman; the latter joined the Free-Will Baptists. In 1876 Armenia was revived, under George P. Watrous’ labors, receiving 11 members from Alba, to whom 9 have been added by baptism and 3 by letter.
Under the first organization Wm. Pierce was deacon; and Deacon Pierce, Josiah Kingman, and W. Jones acted a clerks.
G.P. Watrous and E. Burroughs have been pastors under the second organization; W. Henry Porter, deacon; and DeWitt Becker and C.F. Murray, clerks (Alba P.O.).
Was organized Sept. 29, 1842, with 17 members, and joined Bradford association with 23. Reported 24 baptized in 1854, 20 in 1864 - in all, 85, and has had 169 different members. June 5, 1855, dedicated their meeting-house, on the creek, erected at a cost of $1150.
Its pastors or supplies have been J.R. Burdick, W.H. Dwyer, Isaac B. Lake ( most of the time from 1848 to his death, in 1872 - twenty-four years), George McNair, J. Gray, E. Loomis, and B. Jones, supplying at intervals. Since 1872, Thomas B. Jayne, R. Woodward, and C.H. Crowl.
Deacons - Aaron Knapp, John Kelly, B.B. Parkhurst, Geo. Whipple, B.S. Tears.
Clerks - John Kelly, Wm. Robart, J.C. Hammond, B.B. Parkhurst, A. Royse, C.H. Lamb (died, 1867), H.L. Coburn, H.K. Mott. Jesse Robart.
March 8, 1843, a council, convened for east-central Bradford, recognized a church of seven members. These were joined by a "Pike Conference," and by some from Wyalusing. They united with the Bridgewater association same year as "Pike & Herrick" church, with 21 members, in five or more townships; joined Bradford association in 1845, but returned to Bridgewater in 1856. In 1855, it became "Herrick & Wysox," but on the formation of Wysox, dismissing many members for that purpose, became "Herrickville," in 1856.
In 1853 it reported 21 baptisms, 13 in 1856, 21 in 1866 - in all, 99, with 58 received by letter and experience; a total of 178 different members. It has a share in the meeting-house at Herrickville.
It has had, as pastors and supplies, Thomas Mitchell, Wm. Lathrop, Jr., Levi Baldwin, J.R. Morris, J.W. Parker, G.W. Stone, S.G. Keim, E.S. Lear, D.E. Bowen, H.H. Gray, E. Burroughs, P.T. Maryott, and H.H. Gray, again.
Deacons have been Jonathan Wood (died, 1862), Ezekiel Carr, Nathan Black.
Clerks - Amos Snow, E. Carr, Asa R. Brown.
May 16, 1843, a church of about 28 members was recognized, and joined Bradford association, 1844, with 71 members. House of worship on land given by Judge Herrick, dedicated Feb. 2, 1846. House for preachers secured not long since. Its principal accessions by baptism were 31 in 1844, 10 in 1845, 22 in 1849, 25 in 1851, 12 in 1852, 19 in 1853, 24 in 1854, 33 in 1858, 17 in 1868, 29 in 1870, 19 in 1872, 12 in 1876. Three years not reported, but a third of a century’s Christian toil shows 283 baptisms (an average of eight per year) and 435 different members; yet the congregation has been so changeable that much has been, and still is, like mission work. Joined Chemung River association in 1868.
The church arose under the labors of Levi Morse, who was pastor (ordained in 1844) until 1848 - now in Darestown, N.J. Elders Cornwell and Stowell supplied in his temporary absence. Wm. H. King was here ordained, in 1849. Alexander Smith supplied in 1854; succeeded by Samuel W. Price (son of missionary, Dr. Price), who soon died, in 1855. Geo. W. Plummer was a supply, followed by Wm. Putnam. Wm. H. Spencer, pastor, 1857 to ‘59. Wm. C. McCarthy, A.J. Morse, 1861. Vacancy from 1862 to 1866, when Thomas J.B. House resumed preaching, followed by Hinton S. Lloyd, in 1869; Wm. F. Nixon, in 1871; S.T. Dean, in 1873; J.A. Baskwell, in 1875; and J. Barton French, since 1876. Stowell, Putnam, McCarthy, House, and Lloyd, were pastors at Factoryville, or Waverly, while preaching here, and most of the preachers have usually had more than one charge.
The following have been acting deacons: Thomas Morgan, deceased, R. Leslie McGeorge, George W. Plummer, Dana F. Park, Geo. M. Angier.
Clerks - R.L. McGeorge, R.M. Welles, D.F. Park.
Cherry - Albany
In 1849, Cherry church, Sullivan county, joined Bradford association, with 20 members; Dr. E.P. Allen, messenger. Cherry township adjoins Albany, in Bradford County, and the membership is so largely in Albany that it is now a Bradford County church, and is engaged on a house of worship at New Albany.
In 1854, Cherry reported 17 baptisms, and 26 in 1877 - in all, 62 baptisms - 19 received by letter, and 23 by experience. Total members reported, 124, in twenty-two our of twenty-nine years.
The minutes have named as pastors Wm. McKown, 1852; Nathan Callender, 1854 to 1861; Wm. Lathrop, 1862; T.E. Phillips (now in Tyrone, New York), 1865; Benjamin Jones (excepting I.J. Sturdevant, 1875), since 1868.
Deacons - Stephen Harris, David Abraham, G. Burdick, Williams Lee, J.E. Patch.
Clerks - John W. Martin, G.W. Burdick, Hiram Crandall, Uriah Lee, W. Lee (New Albany P.O.)
Burlington (West or New)
Joined Bradford association in 1854, with 14 members. It mentions Hickory Grove school-house as a place of worship. It has received 41 accessions by baptism (18 in 1863), and numbered over 90 different members. Pastors and supplies include J.R. Morris, James McDonald, John Gray, I.B. Lake, Ithiel B. Reynolds (of Union, Tioga County, Pa.), B. Jones, C.R. Levering, M.V. Bronk, C.H. Crowl, I.J. Sturtevant (Burlington P.O.).
Deacon named - Lebbeus Ellis.
Clerks - L. Ellis, D.D. Sellick, Lyman S. Sellick (Mountain Lake P.O.).
Some years a branch of Athens, was organized, with 35 members, in March, recognized in April, and joined Bradford association in June, 1855. In 1857, 32 were added by baptism, 16 in 1859, and 66 in all. Total of members, 132. Their meeting-house, commenced while with Athens church, cost about $1400. In 1868, for having received an excluded member, to the grief of a sister church, the association "forwarded to the church its resignation," - that is, excluded the church. In 1873 it so far recovered as to join (with consent of Bradford) Broome & Tioga association.
Pastors or supplies - Geo. W. Plummer, A. Wade, Jr., W.H. Spencer, Orson Carner, E.S. Browe (no record from 1868 to 1873), Geo. Brown, J.B. French.
Deacon named - Heman Morse.
Clerks - S.D. Carner, Wm. H. Morse, Geo. Plantz.
Mostly from Braintrim, constituted Jan. 11, 1871, joined Wyoming association same year, with 18 members. Since baptized, 2. Have a share in place fitted for worship.
Pastors - E. Burroughs, H.H. Gray. E.C. Quick, E.S. Lear.
Deacons - Wilmot Coburn, H.C. Lacey.
Clerk - Wm. F. Coburn (Silvara P.O.).
Is in a new coal-mining town. Formed June 8, 1877, with 11 members - 5 newly baptized, and 6 on experience. Joined Bradford association the same year, and has since had some additions. George P. Watrous (associational missionary) and others have preached there. John Hunter serves as deacon, and Robert Morris, clerk.
Roll of Honor
Without any attempt to report them, the minutes contain incidental allusions to eight members of churches who fell in the war for the Union, viz.:
Alba - Oscar Williams, in Libby prison; and Levi R. Leicester
Canton - James Hall.
Litchfield - Leonard Demarest.
Smithfield - E.Q. Greenleaf at Bristow.
Terrytown - James Strong at Fort Fisher.
Wyalusing - J.H. Brewster at Fredericksburg.
Windham - G.W. Jakways.
The list is very incomplete.
Churches, Pastors, and Number of Members, in Bradford County, as reported in 1877
1798 -West Franklin, originally Towanda (creek) =39
1808 - Troy, called Burlington to 1822, Charles T. Hallowell =117
1809 - Alba, once called Canton (township), E. Burroughs =23
1810 - Smithfield, originally Smithfield & Ulster, P.S. Everett =264
1812 - Wysox, many changes; 2nd Wysox had, ‘75 =12
1813 - Columbia & Wells, from Columbia in 1821, L.C. Davis =119
1820 - Springfield, C.T. Hallowell =70
1821 - Terrytown, on ground of old Asylum, Benj. Jones =60
1821 - Warren (2nd), H.H. Gray =124
1834 - Wyalusing, E.S. Lear =52
1836 - Rome, no pastor since 1874 =35
1838 - Towanda, from Monroe & Towanda =68
1840 - South Creek, Levi Stone =86
1842 - Armenia, first called 2nd Troy, E. Burroughs =21
1842 - LeRoy, C.H. Crowl =48
1843 - Athens, J. Barton French =116
1843 - Herrickville, first called Pike & Herrick, H.H. Gray =21
1849 - Cherry (Albany), Benj. Jones =71
1854 - Canton (village), George P. Watrous =131
1854 - Burlington (new), Ira J. Sturdevant =27
1855 - Litchfield =36
1871 - Tuscarora, E. S. Lear =20
1877 - Barclay =11
Total - 23 churches, average 68 members to each = 1583
Ratio of Baptists to Population
1800 - 2 Churches - Estimated 70 Members - Population not known.
1810 - 4 Churches - Estimated 143 Members - Population not known.
1820 - 6 Churches - Estimated 469 Members - 1 to 26 population.
1830 - 12 Churches - Estimated 584 Members - 1 to 34 population.
[Footnote - Divisions of principle in operation]
1840 - 10 Churches - Estimated 572 Members - 1 to 57 population.
[Footnote - Disciple and Old School subtractions mostly culminated.]
1850 - 11 Churches - 927 Members - 1 to 46 population.
1860 - 17 Churches - Estimated 1198 Members - 1 to 41 population.
1870 - 19 Churches - Estimated 1351 Members - 1 to 40 population.
1877 - 23 Churches - Estimated 1583 Members - 1 to 36 population.
[Footnote - Population of 1877 estimated at 57,000]
The earliest settlers were largely from the best population of New England, containing many Baptists in sentiment; and for some years their churches increased by immigration. Later settlers have contained a less ratio of Baptists; and where one has come from abroad, two have removed westward. These, in addition to dissensions heretofore noted, may account for a less ratio of Baptists to the population since the tide of immigration set in so strongly. Counting three members of the congregation to one of the church, there are 4749 members of Baptist congregations, or one to twelve of population.
Old School of Primitive Baptists
The Baptist church of Asylum was constituted at Terrytown, Oct. 10, 1821, by a council representing the churches of Braintrim, Windham, Orwell & Ulster, and Smithfield, of which council Elder Thomas B. Beebe, of Smithfield, was chosen moderator. There were seventeen persons who had been members of other Baptist churches, and two were received on experience and baptism. Elder Hezekiah West, of Orwell & Ulster, preached the sermon, Elder Beebe gave the charge to the church, and Elder West, on behalf of the council, gave the right hand of fellowship, and the organization took the name of "The Asylum Baptist church." Elder West became pastor of the church, and continued his labors in it until his death, in 1847. He was frequently assisted by Elder Beebe, of Smithfield. In 1830 a portion of the regular Baptist church seceded from it, and met at
Black Rock, in Maryland. They held that many calling themselves Baptists had departed from the Philadelphia Confession of the doctrine of election, and that the newly-introduced missionary societies, Sabbath-schools, and other agencies of a like nature were human inventions, without warrant in Scripture, and contrary to the practices of Baptists, and consequently only those who repudiated these things were true Baptists. They took the name of Primitive, or Old School.
Most of the members of the Asylum church, with Elder West, became identified with the old-school movement. The few who were in sympathy with the other party, as has been mentioned before, united with the Braintrim church. After the death of Elder West, Elder Ebenezer Terry ministered to this church until his removal to Illinois. He was followed by Elder Chester Schoonover. At present Elder Silas H. Durand is the pastor. This church formerly worshiped alternately at Terrytown and Vaughan Hill, but, for some years past, very few member remaining at Terrytown, the place for stated worship has been fixed at Vaughan Hill, where they have lately built a very comfortable and commodious house of worship, and the church seems more prosperous than in former times.
Separated from the Baptists (regular) on the question of restricted communion, and formerly on the question of slavery, the Free-Will Baptists have maintained a distinct organization in the great sisterhood of churches. It is to be regretted that the statistics from the churches of this denomination are exceedingly meager. There are eleven distinct organizations or churches in this county, viz.: Herrick, Litchfield, Rome, Sheshequin, Tuscarora, Warren, Windham, Windham Centre, East Troy, East Granville, and West Granville. Of these the churches of East Troy, East and West Granville belong to what is called the Troy quarterly meeting, the remaining eight to the Owego quarterly meeting. These, with twenty-four other churches, located in adjoining counties, making two other quarterly meetings, - viz., Gibson and Spafford, - form what is called the Susquehanna yearly meeting, which has a membership of more than 1400 members, more than 400 belonging to the churches of this county.
Of the eleven churches in this county, the church at East Troy stands highest in numbers, having 136. They have a pleasant and commodious house of worship and a good Sabbath-school. Rev. J. Kittle is the present pastor, and is also the pastor of the East and West Granville churches, - the former numbering 33 and the latter 82 members. We have been unable to learn anything further of the history of these churches.
The Tuscarora Free-Will Baptist church is located in the southeast corner of the county. In 1855 considerable interest was manifested in the organization of a church; a public meeting was called, and several persons, with Rev. Bela Cogswell ( a local elder in the M.E. church), among themselves resolved to call for a council from the Owego quarterly meeting, with a view to their organization. Nov. 24, 1856, the council met at the house of Mr. Cogswell, and ten persons were constituted into the Free-Will Baptist church of Tuscarora, and Rev. Bela Cogswell was appointed their pastor. They at once proceeded to establish meetings, and erected a neat and comfortable house of worship at a cost of more than $3000. The present membership of the church is 44. Twelve of its members have died since its organization, among whom were the Rev. Stillman Fuller, a missionary among the freedmen in South Carolina, and Rev. John Tillinghast, who was assistant pastor at the time of his death. Rev. Bela Cogswell has continued the pastoral care of the church from its organization to the present, a period of nearly twenty-two years.
The church in Warren is located at Warren Centre, where there is a comfortable house of worship and a membership of 40 persons. Rev. J.H. Green is the pastor.
The Windham church, of which Rev. D.D. Brown is the pastor, has a membership of 33. The church of Rome, which has a house of worship in Rome borough, and is under the pastoral care of Rev. H. Gale, has 30 members.
The church of Herrick was organized by a council duly appointed from the Owego quarterly meeting, Feb. 11, 1870, with 8 persons. This church has never been very strong, having suffered from the death and removal of some of its members. Its present membership is only 9.
Other churches which have been named are small, and at present are without pastors.
Besides the pastors there are several ministers who are engaged more or less in secular pursuits, and labor in the ministry as there may be call for their services, of whom are Revs. Smith Lent, G.N. Yarrington, C. Johnson, G.W. Hills; C. Dodge now occupying that position.
Most of the church have Sabbath-schools, and have deacons and clerks, but the names of the persons who have served in this capacity have not be obtained.
The Christian Church [Footnote- Contributed in part by Elder Calvin Newell]
Belong to one of the smaller denominations in this county. Nearly akin to the "Disciples," with whom it is often confounded, the latter people have in large measure absorbed their churches, and are now holding the ground only occupied by Christians, who at one time had congregations in Smithfield, Granville, Franklin, Albany, and perhaps elsewhere; now there are but three churches of this denomination in the county, and one of them "has nearly lost its visibility." While having no formulated creed, they believe in God as the creator and upholder of all things, in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour of men, and in the divine authenticity of the Holy Scriptures, and in regeneration as a prerequisite to church membership. They are congregational in government, immersionists in regard to baptism, and open communionists.
The denomination was introduced into this county in the township of Smithfield, where an organization was effected about 1820, and some time after a small church was built, at a cost of about $500. This organization has become nearly or quite extinct. The building remains unoccupied except occasionally when used by ministers of other denominations.
The next organization was effected in the eastern part of Albany township, in the locality known as Hibbard Hill. Somewhere about 1844 or ‘45 a religious awakening occurred in this neighborhood, and Elders Zephaniah Ellis, John Pentecost Sweet, ___ Welton, and ___ Spalding came into the neighborhood and preached in the old log school house which the early settlers had built in this place. As the result, a church was soon organized, and Elder Sweet ministered to the congregation for some time. Afterwards, Elder Ellis moved into the place, and became the pastor of the church, preaching regularly for a number of years. Elder Nobles came soon after, and was succeeded by Elder A.J. Swartz, who remained with them a little more than a year, when he enlisted, and was made captain of C. C., 141st Regiment PA Volunteers, and became a faithful soldier to his country as he had been a soldier of the cross. He was killed in the battle of Chancellorsville. At the time Elder Swartz was with the church it numbered about 80 members. The membership at present is about 150, and its recent pastors have been Elders J.M. Taylor, Hurlburt, and Kinney. Its deacons have been James Allen, John Brown, Henry Hibbard, and John N. Chapman. In 1862 a very comfortable church building was erected, at a cost of $2500. A Sabbath-school is kept up through the summer season.
The only other remaining church organization of this denomination is at Franklin, where a church was constituted Nov. 26, 1859, with forty members, with D.I. Beardsley and J.M. Taylor deacons; E.B. Powell, clerk; and C.E. White, treasurer. A meeting-house was built in 1869, at a cost of about $2500. Additions have been made from time to time under the labors of different pastors and evangelists. The highest number on the roll of membership at one time was eighty; now they number sixty members, and are under the pastoral care of Elder C.D. Kinney. The deacons at present are William B. Shiner and J.M. Taylor. The Sabbath-school is under the superintendence of Deacon Shiner, and has been in existence a number of years. But as no permanent records have been kept, statistics cannot be given.
As the early settlers of this county were for the most part from New England, they brought with them their New England habits, and their social, political, and religious ideas; and, as Congregationalism was the predominant religion in New England, so for many years it was in Bradford County. With but a single exception, the old churches in this county which are now Presbyterian were first organized as Congregationalists. In fact, seventy-five years ago Congregationalism approached much nearer Presbyterianism than at present. Then Congregationalists uniformly held to the Westminster catechism, and were frequently governed by a bench of elders of committed, while councils and associations, though professing to hold only advisory power, yet, really, it was ground for disfellowship for any church to refuse to follow their advice. Reserving for another place the history of those churches which, though organized as Congregationalists, are now in other ecclesiastical relations, a brief account will be given of the churches which are now of "that faith and order."
East Smithfield Church
[Footnote - A brief history of this organization has been prepared by Albert O. Tracy, and published in their Manual for 1877. It will be freely quoted from without other acknowledgment.]
The Pedobaptist Congregational church of East Smithfield was organized in Poultney, Vt., Feb. 11, 1801, by Rev. Elijah Norton and Rev. Lemuel Haynes, the celebrated colored preacher. The church then consisted of Solomon Morse, Samuel Kellogg, Esq., and Nathan Fellows. They chose Samuel Kellogg their moderator, and were commended to the grace of God. Their articles of faith were penned by Mr. Haynes. They immediately started for the "far west," arriving the same month in what is now East Smithfield.
The first record of the church, dated May 16, 1801, is the record of the baptism of Jemima Almira, daughter of Solomon Morse, Rev. James Thomson officiating. The first business meeting was Aug. 16, 1801, when Sarah Kellogg and Jemima Morse were received into the church on profession of faith.
In 1802, Rev. James Wood, under the Connecticut Congregational missionary society, preached the first sermon and administered the first communion to the church in a log school-house which stood near the foot of what is now called Mitchell’s hill. The communion-table was a large plank, split from a log with a beetle and wedges and hewed with a broadax, the table-legs were sticks driven into auger-holes in the plank. The wine used was the unfermented juice of wild grapes tempered with water and maple-sugar. It was a season of great enjoyment to the little church.
The next church meeting on record is dated May, 1803; then Anna Fellows was received by letter, and Rufus Baldwin on examination; and September 28, following, Thomas Barrows, Eunice Barrows, and Mary Needham were received on examination. No other record of a church meeting is found till October 7, 1807. At this meeting Ruth Pierce was received by letter, and the following record is made: "Agreed to set up a meeting every fourth week. Attest: Solomon Morse, moderator." This meeting was for public worship. April 17, 1808, Asahel Dutton was received on examination, and Zephaniah Ames, Diantha Ames, Elias Needham, and Mary Needham by letter. February 1, 1810, Lois Ames was received on examination, and April 27, following, Nehemiah and Lucy Tracy and Ebenezer Harkness. In 1811, Solomon Morse and Zephaniah Ames were elected deacons.
The Luzerne association was founded in 1810, and the church, consisting then of 18 members, joined it in 1811.
In 1811, a house [Footnote - This house cost about $300, and was completed after much effort. It is said Nehemiah Tracy sold his last cow to buy nails and glass for the windows. Mr. Tracy came from East Haddam, Connecticut, to East Smithfield, in 1805. A missionary on a journey stopped in Smithfield overnight, in 1809 or 1810, and preached in the widow Gerould’s house, from the text, Jer. xxxi. 19. Among the few gathered at that service was Nehemiah Tracy, and he dated his conversion from that sermon.] of worship was erected on the ground where the present one stands, a small building, built at great sacrifice, and for twenty years it remained without regular seats. It was the first house of worship erected in this part of Pennsylvania. For years it was the only one in East Smithfield. It was free for the use of other denominations when not used by them selves. This continued to be the house of worship of the society till the year 1861, when the present one took its place.
From 1814 to 1817, the church had its first regular pastor, Rev. John Bascom. Up to this time 44 members had been received, and no record had been made of death or removal. The church not being able to support its pastor, he was dismissed, and for a series of years the pulpit was irregularly supplied.
In 1817, the Luzerne association took the name of the Susquehanna presbytery, and the Congregational churches entered into the "Plan of Union." In 1837, when this plan was abolished, the church of Smithfield continued to retain its Congregational form. From 1817 to 1831 the records of the church are defective. In 1831, Rev. William Franklin became pastor of the church, and continued until his death, in 1834. In 1835, Stephen Sargent supplied the pulpit a short time. In 1836, Rev. S.M. McClung was employed, and Rev. John Moule served in 1839. Rev. C.C. Cross was the preacher one-half of the time during 1838, and in 1840 one-fourth of the time; from January, 1841 to 1847, one-half the time; and from 1847 to 1869 the church employed his entire time. In 1870, Rev. Cyrus Offer was employed about a year. March 11, 1871, Rev. J.H. Nason commenced preaching for the church, and continued to be its pastor till March 26, 1876.
This is the strongest Congregational church in the county, and one of the most influential of any denomination.
The Church at Potterville
Was organized by a council representing the churches at Elmira, Springfield, and Owego, June 17, 1851, with 27 members, the greater part of whom had formerly been members of the church of Orwell, when that church worshiped in a house on what is called the "Ridge", about midway between Potterville and Orwell Hill; but when it was resolved to build the new house at the latter place, on account of the inconvenience of travel, these members withdrew and were constituted into a new church. On the 28th of June, of this year (1851), the Susquehanna association was formed, and Potterville church became connected with it, and has so remained ever since, except for a short time in 1860 to 1863, when it was connected with the Susquehanna presbyters. Rev. N. Pine was the second pastor, and during his pastorate there were a number of additions, 14 at one time, so that the church numbered at that time 100 members. The present membership is 44. The church has given great attention to Bible study, and its Sabbath-school and Bible-classes are among the best in the county. It has had many pastors and supplies: Rev. T. Thomas, 1851; N. Pine, 1853; J.G. Sabin, 1855; M. Frink, 1858; D. Craft, 1860; J.C. Wilhelm, 1861; H. Losch, 1864; William Hills, 1867; Mr. Cushman, 1868; H. Gilbert, 1869; Raynor, 1872; Baldwin, 1873; E.J. Morris, 1874.
Its deacons have been Uri Cook, before the division and continued to his death (1860, aged eighty); Jason Potter, died 1878, aged eighty-three; A.G. Matthews, Ezra Lyon, Henry Shoemaker (removed), and William Darling. The first house of worship was built in 1849, before the organization of the church, at a cost of $500. In 1875 the congregation built a new house, which cost them $4000. They have also some real estate and invested funds.
The Church at Neath
In the years 1824 to 1827 several pious Welsh families settled along the line dividing the counties of Bradford and Susquehanna, the settlement being partly in Pike township and partly in Middletown. From the year 1827 the settlement kept up a prayer-meeting. In 1831, Rev. Daniel Jones, a Welsh Congregationalist, moved into the settlement, and commenced preaching. In the winter-time the meetings were held in private houses, and in the warm weather in a log barn near the centre of the neighborhood. In 1834 they erected a building which answered the double purpose of church and school. This building stood on the east side of the burying-ground. The church being independent of any ecclesiastical connection, by a unanimous vote became Presbyterian, and both church and minister united with the presbytery of Susquehanna. Mr. Jones continued his connection with the presbytery about eighteen months, when he withdrew, and about one-half of the members set up again a Congregational church, and in 1848 built an edifice on the opposite side of the burying-ground. Mr. Jones continued to minister to his party, and Rev. T. Thomas, then a licentiate, was secured for the Presbyterians. This division continued until 1850, when both parties united as a Congregational church, under the pastorate of Rev. Samuel A. Williams. The Rev. T. Thomas moved to Orwell, and Mr. Jones died the very day Mr. Williams moved to Neath. Mr. Williams continued with the church until 1870, when he resigned on account of the infirmities of age, and Rev. E.J. Morris, a young man and a graduate of the Congregational theological school of London, came from Wales and assumed the pastorate of the church. Under his ministry the church has been greatly strengthened; they built a new and commodious church, which was dedicated March, 1873. They have preaching in both Welsh and English, good Sabbath-schools, and superior music.
The Church at Le Raysville
No statistics have been obtained of this church.
The Disciples of Christ [Footnote - By Elder B.S. Dean, of East Smithfield.]
The history of the Disciples in Bradford County forms part of an extended religious reformation.
Early in the spring of 1827, Silas E. Shephard, a young Baptist minister from the Northumberland association, moved into Canton. He had read "Duncan on Creeds," and became convinced that human creeds were unwarranted and injurious. He united, by letter, with the Baptist church at Canton, Sept.8, 1827. From the original records of this church, now in the possession of Col. Irad Wilson, of Alba, it appears that the first preliminary meeting was held Dec. 9, 1817. It was formally recognized as a church by a council convened for that purpose June 4, 1818. A house of worship was built, in 1820,
A little below the present village of Canton, and regularly occupied till about 1830. Of the original members of the church, three have outlived the fifty-eight years that have elapsed since it organization. They are Irad Wilson and Betsy Rockwell, of Alba, and Minerva Rogers, of Canton. Some months before he united with the church, Mr. Shephard had been engaged to preach for it, and for six or seven years continued the pastor of the congregation. During that period there were frequent additions to its membership. At the very beginning of his ministry at Canton, Mr. Shephard expressed himself freely on the question of creeds. Thus, entirely independent of the Campbells in Virginia and Scott in Ohio, he began a similar work in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Early in 1829, four members became dissatisfied with the teachings of Mr. Shephard, and absenting themselves from the meetings of the church, began to hold meetings by themselves. In the fall of that year they decided to consider themselves as the "church," and passed a resolution to exclude the nineteen who adhered to the teachings of Mr. Shephard. They represented themselves at the Chemung Baptist association, which met at Wellsburg in the fall of the same year, and were recognized by that body, while the main body of the church was ignored. The church sent messengers and a letter again in 1830, which were again rejected. Thenceforward they were not regarded by others nor by themselves as a Baptist church, but assumed the simple title, "Church of Christ," or individually, "Disciples of Christ." After 1830 or ‘31, the better to accommodate the members, the majority of whom lived in the vicinity of the present borough of Alba, meetings were held there. The regular place of meeting was a hewed log school house, which stood near the present residence of Darius Manley.
In 1834 a house was built, and occupied till 1859, when the present commodious edifice was erected on the same site. In 1830, a change in church polity necessitated the election of an additional bishop or elder. On Saturday, May 8, R.R. Rogers was chosen to that office and ordained by the laying on of hands and prayer. The pastor, S.E. Shephard, was already regarded an ex-officio elder. In 1832, the church parted with twenty of its members to form the church at Granville. The year 1834 was one of unusual religious interest. Beginning with November, 1833, there were additions every month but one, for ten months, - about fifty in all.
In 1835, Mr. Shephard removed to Auburn, N.Y., where he remained till 1839, when he returned to Alba. He was also absent about a year, during 1843-44. During this second absence, a remarkable series of meetings was held by J.I Lowell, from the State of New York. For a time he preached in the old meeting-house below Canton Corners, and then transferred the interest to Alba. Early the same winter, Isaac Gates, an Advent preacher, had delivered at the old church a series of lectures on the prophecies. He was honest in the conviction that April, 1843, would witness the end of the world, the second coming of Christ. The whole community was deeply stirred. Many were converted to the idea, many more were in a state of eager expectancy. It was under such circumstances that Mr. Lowell began preaching the gospel. Waiving all speculations as to the coming of Christ, he preached Christ as the sinner’s only hope. The little old meeting-house at Alba, with its seats rising one above the other, was packed to its utmost. Upwards of seventy were baptized. As might have been expected from the peculiar state of the public mind, the religion of some of the converts did not survive the disappointment of the next April. But in spite of all the excitement, much good material was built into the church, which remains to this day.
In September, 1850, the old hive swarmed again, sending off thirty of its members to form the congregation at the village of Canton.
Nov. 9, 1859, the present house of worship was dedicated. N.J. Mitchell, of Centre county, preached, and continued for a week or more, with twenty additions. During the year 1860, upwards of twenty more were added to the church under the labors of James G. Encell. In October, 1865, W.A. Belding held a meeting, with fourteen additions. Among the converts at this time was R.H. Delmot, who has since devoted himself successfully to the ministry. In 1868, the church was strengthened by twenty-four additions, under the preaching of Ira C. Mitchell. Successful meetings were also held in 1870 to 1872, by A. Greenlaw, who was for some years pastor of the church.
The following is the list of persons who have served the church as pastors, or by stated preaching: S.E. Shephard, R.R. Rogers, David Palmer, Milton Shephard, T. Miller, Chas, McDougall, J.G. Encell, T.B. Knowles, N.J. Mitchell, and A. Greenlaw. S.E. Shephard has preached for them the greater part of the time.
The present officers are: Elders, Irad Wilson, D.R. Manley, Leonard Lewis; Deacons, Joel Taylor, C.S. Crandall, Simeon Case, H.D. Freeman; Pastor, S.E. Shephard. Present membership, 130; member of the Sabbath-school, 60; value of the church property, $3500.
On the 1st day of January, 1828, Mr. Shephard, in company with Deacon Samuel Rockwell, of Canton, visited Smithfield. The Baptist church, which had been founded in 1810, and greatly built up by a remarkable revival in 1818-19, was, at the time of Mr. Shephard’s visit, much divided in sentiment concerning certain of their articles. On the question being raised, Mr. Shephard at once declared his conviction that the use of the articles was unwarranted and injurious. Other conversions followed. The question was raised on employing Mr. Shephard. The following resolution, adopted Jan. 9, 1828, shows the result, and is an index of the times: "That was have Elder Shephard for our minister, one-half of the time, for one year; and that we give him $150 for his services, to be paid in wheat, at one dollar per bushel, and corn and rye, at fifty cents." He preached one year. Additions were frequent. In 1829, the church could not agree on a preacher. The leaven of definite principles was at work. The question of articles began again to be agitated, but it was not now the old issue of 1819-28. Then the question was, Are the Calvinistic articles true? Now it was, Do the Scriptures warrant the use of articles at all?
Thus a well defined issue was formed. Dec. 2, 1830, a resolution was offered "To dispense with the articles and covenant, and take the Word of God in their stead for the constitution of the church." The vote stood thirty-nine for, and forty-six against, the motion. The meeting adjourned to Dec. 4, On that day the contest culminated in the following resolution: "That fellowship be withdrawn from all those who voted in favor of dispensing with the articles."
Eighteen days late, thirty-two of the thirty-nine embraced in the act of exclusion, together with eight others in sympathy with them, met and resolved to consider themselves a church of Christ, and to adopt the Word of God as their only rule of faith and practice. This was Dec. 22, 1830. It is a significant fact, that of the twenty or more who were gathered into the Baptist church, under Mr. Shephard’s preaching, less than one-half entered the new organization. The majority of the members were persons of mature years and long standing in the church. After the lapse of forty-five years, eight of the forty still survive. Of the original forty, eleven were Woods and five were Geroulds; ten were sons and daughters of Deacon Samuel Wood. Jan. 9, 1831, the church was more fully set in order by the election of Moses Wood, James Martin, and Abraham Woos as elders, and Asa Hackett and Ezra Wood, deacons. The services of Mr. Shephard were engaged for one-half the time during 1831 and ‘32. He also preached one-fourth of the time during 1833. The remainder of the time the church depended on its own resources. In 1832, George Wells was authorized to teach in the absence of the regular minister. In 1834, Jonathan Wood was appointed to the office of public teacher, which position he filled for ten years. In 1844, Bernard Wood was associated with him in the work.
The young church did not grow rapidly at first. During the first two years there were twelve additions. From May, 1833, to June, 1838, there was not a single addition, and some losses. There was, however, no tendency to dissolution: no church quarrels, and a general and firm maintenance of the ground on which they had entrenched themselves. Early in January, 1838, David Palmer, of Canton, came to the assistance of Jonathan Wood. In the meetings that followed the church nearly doubled its membership. There were occasional additions up to 1844, when Mr. Palmer was again called in . Twelve were added to the church.
In 1845, Milton Shephard preached for the church. For the next two years Bernard Wood preached. Up to the year 1847, a period of seventeen years, the Baptists and Disciples occupied the same house. The Baptists met in the meeting-house, on one Sunday and the school-house the next. The Disciples alternated with them. It is a singular fact that, after the division, both houses were moved and both were finally burned. In June, 1847, the Baptists proposed to give or take $400 for their half-interest in the house. The Disciples decided to sell. The next August they bought a large frame house of George Goodrich, and enlarged and fitted it up for a meeting-house. In the mean time E.E. Orvis had been called to the care of the church. Meetings followed the occupation of the new house, with several converts.
The winter of 1850 was one of deep religious interest, in which all of the Smithfield churches shared to some extent. The Disciples were strengthened by frequent accessions, and twenty-six were baptized that year. The possession of a house of worship all their own had given to the cause a new impulse, and clothed it with an air of permanence which it did not before possess. Upon occupying their own house the church began to observe the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day. In 1850 a Sunday-school was organized. Since 1848 not a year has passed without additions.
During the year 1851-52, Milton Shephard ministered to the church. During 1853-54 the church was without a regular pastor. Francis Apperson and E. Griffin were employed part of that time. In the fall of 1854 a successful meeting was held by Charles McDougall, and another, in 1855, by W.A. Belding.
From 1855 to 1857, L.B. Hyatt was settled with the church. A.S. Hale was one of the converts of 1850. The church soon discovered in him the germs of a useful preacher. In August, 1855, they formally and publicly called upon him to devote himself to the ministry of the gospel. The same year he entered Bethany college, from which he was graduated in 1858. In 1859 he was called to the ministry in his boyhood home, where he continued with great acceptance and growing power for four years. Over fifty were added to the church in that time.
W.R. Spindler ministered to the church with mutual satisfaction from 1863 to 1866, during which time forty-five were added to the church. From April, 1867, to September, 1869, the church enjoyed the labors of Lucian Ames.
In the spring of 1868 it was decided to build a new house, as the old one was too small for the needs of the growing congregation. The new house - a frame structure of 40 by 56 feet, with basement story - was dedicated Jan. 14, 1869. L.P Streator, of Washington county, preached the dedication discourse, and continued the meeting for a month, with about fifty additions. In June, 1870, B.S. Dean was called to the pastoral care of the church, and entered upon his work July 24. Six years of his ministry have been remarkable for nothing save great unity and steady growth. Additions have been 103.
The additions by decades have been from December, 1830, to December, 1840, 487; from December, 1840 to December, 1850, 66; from December, 1850, to December, 1860, 129; from December, 1860, to December, 1870, 130; from December, 1870, to July 18, 1876, 95. Contributions for all purposes for six years past have averaged about $1400. In the two years previous above $5000 were raised. Missionary contributions for four years have averaged $150. The present year’s contributions for missionary and educational purposes will reach $250.
Prayer-meetings have been held for many years at private houses; at the church for nearly twenty years. The Sunday-school is twenty-six years old, and was the first school in Smithfield to winter through. For thirteen years it was an "annual;" for thirteen years it has been perennial, and now, under the superintendence of the pastor, numbers - officers, teachers, and pupils - 240, of whom 120 are members of church.
Two families in the church have been very prominent, both in numbers and influence, - the Woods and Geroulds.
Total number on record, 493. Present membership, 235. Value of church property, $6000. Present officers: Elders, Merritt Wood, A.C. Hale, B.S. Dean, E.G. Kingsbury. Deacons, Enos Califf, Asa Phelps, O.E. Wilcox, A.R. Dutton. Pastor, B.S. Dean.
Granville Centre Church
In the fall of 1831, Mr. Shephard made several visits to Granville. His preaching took an early and vigorous hold of the community. Among the first fruits of that preaching were Luman Putnam and wife, Benjamin Saxton, and Jeremiah Taylor. These converts, with several others, united with the church at Canton (now Alba). By the spring of 1832 they were thought strong enough to warrant the organization of a separate church. This was effected with the assistance of Mr. Shephard, April 1, 1832. The church was composed of twenty-five members, with Uriah Baxter and Jeremiah Taylor elders. In June, 1834, John C. Rockwell was called to the eldership. Mr. Shephard continued to visit the infant church until he left the county, in 1835. There were few extraordinary meetings, but the congregation thrived until discord arose over a case of discipline. A house of worship had been begun, but was never finished, and in 1840 the church ceased to meet. During the nine years 117 persons had been gathered into its membership. After twelve years of disorganization, by the efforts of T. Miller and Chas, McDougall the scattered members were gathered up. Dec. 20, 1852, a reorganization was effected, with twenty members. A series of meetings followed, during which the membership was increased to thirty. D.B. Ross, Geo. Brigham, and Hiram Reynolds were chosen elders, and L.D. Taylor deacon. Chas. McDougall preached, and, assisted by L.B. Hyatt, conducted a successful meeting. Further meetings have been held by L.B. Hyatt, in 1857; Chas. McDougall, in 1858; J.G. Encell, in 1862; W.R. Sperider, in 1866; L.P. Streator, in 1869; Wm. Olin, in 1872; and R.F. Delmot, in 1873. The following persons have ministered regularly to the church: S.E. Shephard, Geo. Wells, M. Hurlbut, R.G. Barrow, Chas. McDougall, J.G. Encell, Cyrus Hurlbut, and Alex. Greenlaw. The growth of the church at Granville has not been spasmodic. There have been four great revivals, but its work has been of a permanent character. The increase has been, from 1852 to 1860, 70; from 1860 to 1870, 93; from 1870 to 1876, 35. Total membership since 1852, 218. Present membership, 106. Members of Sunday-school, 105. Value of church property, $3500.
The present church officers are: Elders, Levi Taylor, C.D. Ross, L.M. Leonard; Deacons, O.L. Streator, O. Taylor, S.A. Rockwell; Pastor, S.E. Shephard (since deceased).
Some of the older members of the church at LeRoy relate that the first Disciple who preached in that place was S.E. Shephard. No one can give the date precisely, but it was not far from 1835. They do remember, however, that his sermon was a very long one. Its length is variously given at from three to five hours. He had gone there on the invitation of prominent citizens to unfold the gospel as he understood it. He could speak but one, and so for several hours held their undivided attention, while he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. That sermon is bearing fruit yet. There was occasional preaching for some years. Meetings were held at the school-house at the corner, or at the house of Hugh Holcomb, a little above. In November, 1839, the little company of Disciples that had been gathered resolved on forming themselves into a church. They were seventeen in number; eleven of the seventeen were Holcombs. David Hickock was chosen elder, and Orator Holcomb and Benjamin Hale deacons. Meetings were held in the school-house till 1850. The present house was raised June 14, 1849, and dedicated June 7, 1850. The church at Le Roy has depended more on its home resources for regular instruction than most churches. C.W. Churchill, a man of exemplary character, has for many years minister to the congregation. Foreign help has been relied upon principally for protracted meetings. Additions by periods have been, 1839 to 1850, 33; 1850 to 1860, 46; 1860 to 1870, 112; 1870 to 1876, 70. Present membership, 158; value of church property, $2500; members of the Sabbath-school, 110. The present officers of the church are: Elders, C.W. Churchill, Orator Holcomb, L.M. Greeno; Deacons, Hiram Stone, Le Roy Holcomb.
After the original church in Canton had transferred its seat to the northern part of the township, and (in 1834) built within the limits of the present borough of Alba a house of worship, meetings continued to be held frequently at the old house below Canton Corners. After that was sold, meetings were held in the school-house, which stood on land near the lower extremity of Canton street. S.E. Shephard, R.R. Rogers, and E.E. Orvis preached regularly at different periods. The fruits of this early labor were gathered into the church at Alba by this means. As the original church had extended in the direction of Alba till it found there its permanent abode, so now it grew back again towards Canton. In 1847 a mission Sunday-school was formed. This was before Canton village could boast a meeting-house, or possibly a church organization. For some time prior to 1850 the propriety of forming a separate church at Canton had been considered. At a meeting held Sunday, Aug. 4, 1850, after preaching by Theobald Miller, those who desired to assist in the formation of a church of Christ were requested to signify it. The number was sufficient to justify the appointment of a meeting for that purpose. The meeting, therefore, adjourned to Saturday, September 22. Upon that day a little company, twenty-two in number, met and formed a church "under the name of the Church of Christ, renouncing all human creeds, and taking the word of God, as contained in the Old and New Testaments, as the sole rule of faith and practice."
Roswell R. Rogers and R.D. Hazelton were chosen elders; Asa Pratt, Jacob Y,. Rockwell, deacons. The next year a lot was secured in a commanding position, and in 1852 a house was erected, the first within the limits of the present borough of Canton, as it is still the most commodious.
The church made rapid progress from the beginning, although it has sustained many serious losses by westward emigration. Up to 1870 the church united with the one at Alba, or Granville, in sustaining a minister, and as a rule, during those years, had preaching only once in two weeks.
The following ministers have served as pastors or by stated preaching: T. Miller, 1850-51; Charles McDougall, 1852-1861; John Swart, 1861-62; J.G. Encell, 1862-63; T.B. Knowles, 1863-64; S.E. Shephard, 1864-65; N.J. Mitchell, 1868; A. Greenlaw, 1868-70; W.T.C. Sanders, 1871-73; J.L. Phoenix, 1873-75. In addition to the labors of these, meetings have been held by Ira C. Mitchell, Wm. Olin, R.F. Delmot, and B.S. Dean.
B.H. Hayden, the present pastor, entered upon his work there Sunday, May 2, 1875. At the same time he was formally ordained to the ministry, S.E. Shephard and B.S. Dean officiating.
The present officers are: Elders, George Griffen, A.D. Finch, H.B. Parsons; Deacons, Jas. Bothwell, A.P. Coons, A.D. Ayres, Wm. Irvin; Pastor, B.H. Hayden.
Membership of Sunday-school, 130; value of property, $14,500.
This church owes its existence to the labors of Brother R.F. Delmot. The community had been very irreligious, and was about given up by ministers of all denominations. Dec. 23,1867, Brother Delmot went to Grover (then called Lock’s Mills on the invitation of a professed skeptic. Amid great discouragements he began a work which shortly revolutionized the whole community. He continued about seven weeks, with 150 conversions. January 20, a church was organized, and on the 26th a subscription was started for a meeting-house. A very neat and commodious house was erected during the summer, at a cost of $2500, and dedicated in December. Brother Ames, of East Smithfield, preached the opening discourse.
Many of the original members were transient. Some proved transient in their religious convictions. Several have united with the church at Canton, and a few assisted in the formation of the church at Beach Flats. But a really good and permanent work was done, and the little church holds its ground firmly, with good prospects for the future. Meetings have been held by R.F. Delmot, I.R. Spencer, and B.H. Hayden. Brother Delmot has also preached regularly for two seasons.
The present membership is 38. There are 45 scholars in the Sunday-school.
The church officers are - Elders, H.T. Spencer, Lewis Spencer, and George Wetherby; Deacons, Eli Camp, G.K. Taylor, George Kendrick; Pastor, B.H. Hayden.
The Church at Sylvania
For some years prior to 1869, there had been a few Disciples in the vicinity f Sylvania. December 23, 1869, a Meeting was begun by L.P. Streator, I.R. Spencer, and R.F. Delmot, which continued three weeks, with several conversions. January 15, 1870, an organization was effected with thirty-one members. Brother Spencer began preaching for the congregation once in two weeks, and continued till the close of 1874. At present, the church is without a pastor. The present membership is 37.
The Church at Beech Flats
In the month of March, 1875, B.H. Hayden was engaged in a meeting at Grover. At its conclusion, by request of Brother Myron Fellows he went to that neighborhood to speak a few evenings. Almost immediately a deep interest was created, and many conversions followed. The final result was the organization of a church, May 28, of thirty-five members. Myron Fellows, Joseph Bonney, and Melvern Bonney were chosen elders. Edward Bufum and Warren Fitzwater, deacons. From the first, the church has been very active, nearly the whole congregation attending the weekly prayer-meetings. The present membership is 35. A union Sunday-school is maintained..
From the foregoing sketches, it will be seen that the five oldest and strongest of our churches in Bradford County were either founded directly by Brother Shephard, or were offshoots from those he established.
The following is a list of the churches, with their present membership: Alba, 130; Beech Flats, 35; Canton, 209; East Smithfield, 235; Granville, 100; Grover, 38; LeRoy, 163; Sylvania, 37. Total, 947.
Along the line dividing the township of Wilmot, in Bradford County, from the Township of Colley, in Sullivan County, quite a number of Germans have settled, who were connected with either the Lutheran or German Reformed churches, and were mostly familiar with the German language. They were visited by the Rev. Carl L. Erle, who preached the Word and administered the sacraments alternately at the private houses of Mr. George Eberlin, Sr., and George Schock. The number of hearers soon increased so that a house of worship was needed. The congregation, being organized, at once proceeded to build a log church. Twenty-four by thirty-four feet, which was commenced and finished in 1850. The church was organized with 30 communicants, with Mr. Erle as pastor, John George Eberlin, Sr., elder, and Thomas Messersmith and Jacob Eberlin, Sr., deacons. The congregation, though purely Lutheran in form and doctrine, is called a union church, as either a Lutheran or German Reformed preacher is allowed to occupy the pulpit, to the exclusion of all others, except in case of funerals. All ministerial acts are to be strictly administered according to the Lutheran ritual. It is under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the general council of the Lutheran church of America, and the old Pennsylvania synod.
A Sabbath-school was organized soon after the church was built, which has increased from a mere handful to more than 50 pupils, and the church to about 100 communicants, with about 20 candidates for confirmation in the catechetical class. George Neuber is the present elder, and Jacob Eberlin, Jr., and William Kisner are the deacons.
At the first organization of the church the services were exclusively German, and Mr. Erle preached exclusively in that language until 1874, when he retired from the pastorate, and was succeeded by Rev. H.B. Strodach, who preached in both German and English. Rev.
L. Wolferz succeeded him; but being neither Lutheran nor German Reformed, he was compelled to leave on account of the constitution of the church, after having occupied the pulpit three months. Rev. Lewis Smith is the present pastor, and is preaching in both German and English. In 1874 a neat framed church, thirty by fifty feet, superseded the old log edifice, in which the services are now held, while opposite to it is the burying-ground. The church building is in this county, and the members of the congregation reside in both counties.
Methodist Episcopal Church*
[*Footnote - Rev. C. E. Taylor, Col. J. A. Codding, Rev. I. T. Walker, Rev. J.B. Sumner, and others, have made contributions to this chapter, and Dr. Peck’s "Early Methodism" has been quoted freely without formal acknowledgment.]
Among the early settlers in the county there were but few if any Methodists; but that church, ever alive to the spiritual necessities of men, and ready to stand on the very outposts of civilization, sent her ministers early into this field to do pioneer work for the church and for the Master. As early as 1792, John Hill stands connected with Tioga. No circuit having distinct bounds had as yet been formed there. Tioga was a mission field of indefinite extent, designed to embrace the new settlements from Wyalusing north and west, wherever they might be found nestles in the dense and lofty forests.
In the autumn of 1792, William Colbert was appointed to the field, and commenced his labors on Tioga circuit. I cannot learn that it had any definite bounds. Mr. Colbert arrived at Gideon Baldwin’s, in the lower part of Wyalusing, Thursday, Dec. 6, where, after a day’s fasting and riding over hills and through woods, he found something to ear and a place of rest. Here a class had been formed, but when or by whom, or of how many members it consisted, cannot now be learned. Mr. Colbert mentions that a Mr. Pierce and his wife "have their names on our class-paper down the creek at Baldwin’s," but adds they are not very well acquainted with Methodism. On Sunday, Mr. Colbert preached at Guy Wells’, who lived on the Wyalusing creek, about three miles from the river. So far as there is any record, this is the first sermon preached by a Methodist minister, at lease in the lower part of the county. The next day Mr. Colbert went up the creek, and preached in the neighborhood of Stevensville: on Tuesday, at Mr. Burney’s, in Standing Stone; Wednesday, in Wysox; Thursday, at Sheshequin. He also made an appointment on Seeley’s creek, at Mr. Foster’s, at the mouth of Sugar creek, and at Brother Rice’s, in "Suffield’s Flats" [Asylum]. Who this Brother Rice was cannot be known with certainty. Wanton Rice lived afterwards at Ulster and in Athens township. It is very likely that he may have been the Brother Rice here spoken of. The next day, Dec. 21, Mr. Colbert says, "In the evening met the class in Sheffield’s Flats; the first class I have met in the circuit."
Soon after he visited old Mr. Cole’s, at Macedonia, he says, "Here I wanted to regulate the society, but found them very refractory." He also preached at Capt. Clark’s, in Ulster. His circuit extended into the State of New York, and we find him at Newtown, at Nichols, and farther up into the State. He recounts trials and perils of various sorts, but they were nothing more than pertained to the wild and unimproved country. He continued on the circuit four months, and received as compensation three dollars and fourteen cents. On the 11th of April, Mr. Colbert met at Sheshequin Rev. Thomas Ware, who had come on in the capacity of an elder, attended quarterly meeting, administer the sacrament, and preached several times when they went down the river together to Wilkes-Barre. Mr. Colbert sums up the work of the year thus: "I have been four months and eight days on Tioga circuit, one of the most disagreeable places for traveling I was ever in, among a refractory sort of people. I lived hard, labored hard, but, I fear, did but little good. I joined but three in society while I was there." The membership of the two or three classes which were in existence is not stated.
In the autumn of this year Mr. Colbert, in company with Thornton Fleming, visited Tioga circuit again, held quarterly meeting in Sheshequin, and then they continued their explorations up into the lake country in the State of New York.
In 1794 a district was formed composed of Tioga and Seneca circuits and Nova Scotia, and Mr. Fleming was appointed presiding elder. Seneca had been taken from Tioga that year. Dr. Peck gives the membership of Tioga circuit in 1796 at 138 souls.
The year 1797 finds three circuits, - Wyoming, Tioga, and Seneca, - with Thomas Ware the presiding elder and James Stokes the preacher.
Burlington church was organized about this time, Among the first settlers on Sugar creek in 1791 were William Dobbins and James McKean, whose wives were pious, godly women. The very evening after the first company of settlers arrived on the creek, these two women had a prayer-meeting. This meeting they kept up for five or six years with what help they could get, but had as yet been visited by no preacher. One evening a company of young folks assembles for an evening party, when it was proposed to hold a prayer-meeting in jest. They began, sang a hymn, one or two prayed, sang another hymn, and another undertook to pray. By this time conviction took hold of some of the party, and they began to pray in earnest. Meanwhile word was sent to these pious mothers of what was going on. When they arrived they joined in prayer with the penitents, and before the meeting closed six declared they had found peace in believing. Meeting was held next day, and others professed conversion. Father Cole, as he was familiarly called, was sent for, who, in company with Job Irish, soon appeared on the ground and held a series of meetings. A class of eighteen members was now formed, with Andrew McKean as leader.
No account of Methodism in Bradford County would be complete without some mention of Rev. Elisha Cole. He was the son of the old Mr. Cole who Mr. Colbert visited in his first missionary tour on the Tioga circuit. Mr. Cole was an emigrant from Berkshire Co., Mass., to Macedonia before the Revolutionary war; was at Wyoming at the time of the battle and massacre, in which he had one son and one son-in-law slain. At this time Elisha was nine years old, having been born Aug. 15, 1769. Returning to the Susquehanna after the war, he was converted, identified himself with the Methodists, and
May 4, 1794, was licensed to exhort by Valentine Cook, at that time an elder along with Mr. Fleming on the Tioga circuit. May 5, 1798, was licensed to preach by Thomas Ware, the presiding elder. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Whatcoat Sept. 19, 1802; ordained elder by Bishop Hedding Aug. 21, 1824, and died in 1842. Throughout all this county he is known as the pioneer preacher, and Methodism owes more to him for its establishment and growth in this county than any other one man.
It will be remembered that during all the time thus far, all of Bradford County is included in the Tioga circuit, with but one preacher, and he for only a part of the year. In fact, for the next two years there appears to be no other preacher on the ground but Father Cole. Burlington church, whose origin we have traced, met first in a log house built for schools and religious purposes. This house burned down in 1798. Soon after, another was built on the same ground, which was called the "block-house." This stood until 1822. Lorenzo Dow, in one of his circuits through the country, once preached in this house. The present Methodist Episcopal church of Burlington was built in 1822, and is the oldest edifice built for religious worship in the county.
In 1799 there was a different arrangement of districts, and the northern part of Pennsylvania is connected with central New York and Albany, William M. Lenahan being the presiding elder. John Leach and David Dunham are the preachers on the Tioga circuit. This year Jacob Gruber was sent to the Lycoming circuit, and it is said he and Rev. Benjamin Bidlack, and old Revolutionary soldier, and afterwards eminent as a mighty preacher of the gospel, did a considerable missionary work on Tioga circuit.
In 1800 it is said R.R. Roberts, afterwards bishop, held a protracted meeting on Sugar creek, but with what success is not known.
In 1801 the districts were named, and the Tioga circuit is embraced in the Albany district, and in 1802 is in the Philadelphia conference, which appoints William Colbert to be the presiding elder of the district. On the last of July he reached the house of his old friend, Elisha Cole. The quarterly meeting was held at "Friend Tabor’s," in Towanda. He says, "August 1, Sunday. This morning the Lord favored us with a shower both of rain and of his Spirit. Several were brought on their knees, and cried for mercy, in the love-feast."
In 1803, James Herron and Samuel Budd are the preachers. In March, 1802, the quarterly meeting for the Tioga and Unadilla circuits was held at the "Butternuts;" but Jan. 1, 1803, finds Mr. Colbert on Sugar creek, holding a quarterly meeting at Stephen Ballard’s "This Sugar creek," he says, "is a gloomy-looking place," but he had a very good quarterly meeting there. The Philadelphia conference held its session this year at Duck Creek, Del., May 1. At this session the Genesee district was taken from the old Albany district, and William Colbert was appointed to its charge. Tioga is the only one of its eleven charges in the State of Pennsylvania.
Feb. 24, 1804, Mr. Colbert again visits Tioga circuit, preaching at Tioga Point that day, and the next he is on Sugar creek, at Stephen Ballard’s, for his last quarterly meeting on the district. Elisha Cole preached and John B. Hudson exhorted. "I," says Mr. Colbert, "exhorted after him, and Brother Herron concluded the meeting. Samuel Budd had just married and was not present, having gone off on a visit with his wife." This quarterly meeting concluded, Mr. Colbert parted with his preachers, and each one went his own way. He says, "I have now parted with all my brethren in the district, and am on my way to Baltimore." Thursday, March 1, he says, "I took leave of my friends Elisha Cole and David Downing and their families, and a disagreeable ride I have had through the snow to John Whaleback’s [Wyalusing], where I was well entertained, and treated with more politeness than at any tavern between the Mohawk and the Genesee rivers.
Joseph Jewell succeeded Mr. Colbert as presiding elder of the Genesee district, but the size of the district is reduced to eight circuits. Mr. Jewell filled the place until 1808.* [Footnote- Anning Owen is said to have been elder part of this time, but I cannot verify the statement.] The year 1807 was memorable on account of the visit of Bishop Asbury on the old Tioga circuit. In the months of June and July he made a tour through the country from the Hudson up the Mohawk, on to the lake country, and thence south down the Susquehanna. July 11, the party reached Mr. Light’s, east of Athens. Here a camp-meeting was in progress. The bishop says, "I preached on the camp-ground…. It may be I spoke to one thousand people." The next day was the Sabbath, and he says, "My congregation may have doubled in numbers today, and there were no troublesome drunkards…. I ordained five worthy men, local preachers, namely, Daniel Wilcox, John B. Hudson, Samuel Emmitt, John M’Kean, and Nathaniel Lewis. On Tuesday the bishop preached and stayed all night at Judge Gore’s, and the next day reached Wyalusing, where, he says, "Major Gaylord lodged us well and freely." Robert Burch and Benedict Burgess were the preachers this year.
In 1808 there is a new arrangement of the districts. Susquehanna district, which is made to include the Tioga circuit, is attached to the Philadelphia conference. John Kinberlain and Mr. Best were the preachers. This year Loring Grant, who afterward became eminent as a preacher, was licensed, and he tells us that with some diffidence he exhorted at the quarterly meeting on Sugar creek in the winter of 1808 and 1809. Mr. Grant and Palmer Roberts continued on the circuit until 1810. Its bounds had been enlarged in this county very materially. From Owego it extended over the mountains to above the forks of the Wyalusing, down the creek to its mouth, up the Wysox, and from the mouth to the headwaters of the Towanda, and on the headwaters of the Lycoming, there being in many places thirty miles between appointments. From this latter place the circuit extended over to Sugar creek, thence to the river again at Sheshequin. From Sheshequin they went to Tioga Point, then up to Waverly, thence to Elmira, and back again to Owego. How may preaching places, or how many classes or the number of members at this date , I
have no means of knowing. Mr. Grant related the following incident: "At old Sheshequin, at the house of Captain Clark, I preached, and on one occasion there was a lad of about sixteen, or a little rising, by the name of H.B. Bascom [later Bishop Bascom, of the Methodist Episcopal church south], came to hear me preach, and during the sermon wept much; in the class-meeting he professed conversion, and joined the church as a probationer. But it was not until the general conference of 1828 at Pittsburgh that I knew that the green boy that I took into church at Captain Clark’s was the man of worldwide popularity."
The Genesee conference was formed July 20, 1810, and embraced the Susquehanna district. In 1811 the preachers on the Tioga circuit, which still includes all of Bradford County, are John Wilson and Samuel Thompson. In 1812 John Harmon is presiding elder of the district, and Marmaduke Pearce and Abram Dawson are the preacher on the circuit. The Broom circuit was formed this year, which cut off the northeastern part of Tioga.
Along with the increase of population, places for preaching were multiplied until in 1814 it was thought to be advisable to divide the old Tioga circuit again. This time it also divides the territory of our county on the line of the Susquehanna and Tioga rivers.
The circumstances which led to the introduction of Methodism in the northeastern part of the county were somewhat peculiar. Ordinarily the preacher introduced himself, sending on his appointments and pioneering his way. Nathaniel Chubbuck emigrated to Orwell in 1812, and as soon as he had erected his log house went to Sheshequin, where there was Methodist preaching, and secured an appointment to be made for his house in Orwell. Mr. Chubbuck at this time was not a pious man, but had accepted the offer of a new saddle from his father, on condition that he would have Methodist preaching in his house. Marmaduke Pearce was on the circuit, and preached the first Methodist sermon in this part of the county.
The new circuit which was formed in 1814 was called the Wyalusing circuit, and embraced the following described territory: from Owego south to Skinner’s Eddy, up the east side of the Susquehanna and including Athens, thence to the place of beginning; and area about forty miles by twenty. The circuit continues to be a part of the Susquehanna district, of which Mr. Harmon is the presiding elder, and the preacher is Renaldo M. Everts. There were but two stewards for all this great territory, viz., Joseph Ross and Joseph Utter. Timothy Coggins, a colored man, and Edmund Fairchilds are exhorters; Ezekiel Brown, Andrew Canfield, and Uriah Gaskill are class leaders; of these Mr. Brown was the only resident of the county, at whose house Mr. Colbert preached in his first missionary tour in 1793. The first quarterly meeting on the new circuit was held at Joseph Ross’, in Middletown, Susquehanna county, Sept. 24, 1814, twenty-one years after Mr. Colbert had first broken ground in the county. The collections reported at this quarterly meeting amounted to $20.41, from which deducting some items left $14.62 for M. Everts’ quarter age.
It will be convenient henceforth to treat these two circuits separately, although, for a number of years, they were united in the same district and the same conference. A quarterly meeting on the circuit held at Windham, Sept. 30, 1815; the name of Marmaduke Pearce appears as presiding elder, and Elisha Bibbins is the preacher. * [*Footnote - Mr. Bibbins died suddenly at Scranton, July 6, 1859, of heart disease, aged sixty-nine years, and was buried at Orwell.] The number of classes on the circuit had increased to eleven, and the preaching places had also multiplied. The next year John Griffing’s name appears as the circuit preacher, and in 1818 he is succeeded by Elijah King, who did not remain long on the field; his place was supplied by E. Bibbins.
For the early part of the conference year 1819-20, the circuit was supplied by its two local preachers, E. Buttles and Jephthai Brainerd. At the fourth quarterly meeting, June 24, 1820, George Lane, the new presiding elder, was present, with Ebenezer Doolittle and H.G. Warner as circuit preachers. Mr. Warner was licensed as an exhorter in 1815, and was a local preacher in 1816. In 1820, Sophronius Stocking and Waitsdell Scarle are exhorters. At the October quarterly meeting, Asa Cummins and John Sayre are the circuit preachers. In 1821, Gaylord Judd has taken the place of Mr. Sayre, and in 1822, John Griffing and James Hodge are the preachers. On the minutes of the quarterly conference held in September of this year, the name of Joseph Towner appears as exhorter. He had been class leader since 1819. He was one of nature’s noblest sons. With few opportunities for education, he could hardly read a hymn when he was first converted, but by persevering effort he obtained a tolerably correct knowledge of the English language, and became one of the most popular and useful men of his time. His knowledge of human nature was wonderful, and his exhortations were powerful. IN 1823, Nathaniel Chubbuck, who first introduced Methodist preaching in Orwell, was licensed as an exhorter. For nearly forty years he continued to use his gifts as opportunity afforded.
In 1814, Spencer and Wyalusing circuits were connected, and John Griffing, Caleb Kendall, and Philo Barbary were the preachers. This was a strong charge, and was well manned. A camp meeting for this charge was held at Nichols, NY, in the month of August, with great success, at which it was claimed more than fifty were converted. Fitch Reed had followed George Lane as presiding elder in 1823, but was superseded in 1824 by George Peck, who continued to have charge of the district for three years. In 1825 the preachers were Horace Agard and J. Pearsoll. Horace Agard was a man of mark, and did much to advance the cause of piety and Methodism on the charge, and, indeed, throughout northern Pennsylvania and southern New York. The following anecdote is told of him. At a certain quarterly meeting the presiding elder did not preach a very able sermon, but called on Brother Agard to exhort at the close, as the custom was. His exhortation was almost overwhelming. A few days after, Capt. Josiah Grant, of Orwell, while traveling fell in company with him, and wishing to compliment without appearing to flatter him, proceeded as follows: " I was at a quarterly meeting the other day; the presiding elder did not make out much, but he called on a long-faced, dark-skinned,
humble-looking man, and of all the exhortations I ever heard that excelled."
In 1826, John Griffing and David A. Shepard were the preachers. During this year Horace Agard comes on the field as presiding elder. In those days to "ride the circuit" involved a vast amount of physical as well as mental labor, and ministers were usually required to preach three times on Sabbath and nearly every day in the week. A day without preaching was called a "rest day." Brother Griffing told Mr. Chubbuck how he spent one of these rest days. He said he commenced at Standing Stone, and had called upon, and prayed with, about twenty families by the time he had got to Mr. Chubbuck’s house, which would take, in those days, nearly every family on the route. Mr. Shepard was an excellent preacher. In those days it was very common for mothers to take their small children to meeting, in fact seemed to necessary, or else stay at home altogether. The early preachers often complain of "squalling babies." On a certain occasion a mother was present at Mr. Shepard’s meeting with her little one, which began crying so loudly as to disturb the whole congregation. He bore it a while, when he determined to put a stop to it. He paused in the midst of his discourse and turned to ask her to take the child out, but as his eyes were turned toward her he saw the tears running down her cheeks, her eyes fastened on him, her face lit up with joy, and she, unconscious of the child’s crying, was feasting upon the Word. "I turned my eyes from her," said he, "without saying a word to her, concluding if she could be undisturbed under the circumstances, I ought to be." Many souls were converted during the two years he and his colleague labored on this field. They did not engage in protracted meetings as at a later period, but sometimes the quarterly meeting would commence on Friday, and be kept up almost continuously, night and day, until Monday, and many would be converted. These meetings were occasions of great interest, and people would go ten or fifteen miles to attend them, and the hospitality of the people in their neighborhoods be often taxed to the utmost to accommodate the crowds which would attend; all, however, would be provided for. And then those old fashioned "love-feasts" were seasons of wonderful interest and power. They commenced at nine o’clock a.m., when "the doors would be shut," and the belated comer must stay out until the precious season was past.
In 1828, Charles Nash and John Sayre are the preachers, and most of the year passed pleasantly. During this year the old Genesee conference is divided, and a large part of its territory set off to the Oneida conference, but this district and circuit remain the same.
It is to be regretted that the statistics of membership for all of this period of thirty-five years are not accessible to the author. Dr. Peck gives the figures for the Susquehanna district. In 1810 there were seven circuits, of which two were partly in this county, with 3960 members. In 1820 the district had been shorn of a large part of its territory, but has thirteen circuits and a membership of 3043. In 1828 the territory has not been altered very much, but the membership has increased to 4434.
The appointment for 1829 were Charles Nash and Ebenezer Coleson. The next year Mr. Agard is succeeded by Elias Bowen as presiding elder, and had for his colleague Moses Adams. The church made much advancement under their labors. In 1831, S. Stocking and Moses Cushman are the preachers, and Charles W. Adams and Joseph Towner in 1832.
About this time  the circuit was divided, and the eastern part of it became what was known for many years as "Pike circuit." Although the charge was decided, yet the work so multiplied and the appointments so increased that in 1833 there were three preacher appointed to it, viz., J. McC. Hill, S.B. Yarrington, and A.J. Crandall, all powerful preachers. One of the greatest revivals ever known in all this region occurred in the winter and spring of this year. It commenced in Herrick, at what was known as the "State road schoolhouse." Many hears of families were the subjects of this work, and many who had led very wicked lived were converted. Among these was a young man, who was a blasphemer, named Epenetus Owen. Immediately after his conversion he began to exhort sinners to repent. He soon became a minister, and still lives, after many years of usefulness. The meetings at the State road were followed by similar meetings on Ford street, in Pike, where there were like results. Not far from this time there was quite a revival on Orwell hill. A number who afterwards became ministers of the gospel were subjects of it. In September of this year  a camp meeting was held at Loomis Wells’, in Pike, at which many were converted. These awakenings of religious interest produced a marked effect upon society, and wrought a genuine moral revolution in the community. The next year M. Sherman, E. Bibbins, and C.W. Giddings were the preachers, and George Lane was again the presiding elder. In 1835, E.B. Tenney and King Elwell were the preachers. Another camp meeting was held in Pike, with good results. June, 1836, a camp meeting was held on Orwell hill, near Jacob Chubbuck’s, and , notwithstanding the unfavorable weather, there were good results. This year there was a change in presiding elders and preachers, John M. Snyder being the former, Benjamin Ellis and Thomas Davy the latter; and in 1837, George Evans and Thomas Wilcox are the preachers. The next year Evans had associated with him Epenetus Owen, the "converted blasphemer." The camp meeting was held on "Pond hill," Wysox township. Dayton F. Reed [who, on account of his eccentricities, was called "crazy Reed"] was instrumental in getting it up. Not only was the meeting productive of good directly, but revivals followed it in numerous places.
In 1839, Erastus Smith and H. Pillbeam are the preachers, and George Peck, D.D., the presiding elder, and the name of the circuit is changed from Wyalusing to Orwell. Dr. Peck was transferred at the next meeting of conference, May, 1840, to the editorship of the "Methodist Quarterly Review," and David Holmes Jr., took his place. The successors of Mr. Holmes were William Reddy and David A. Shepard, which brings us to a date of important changes in the field we are now considering.
In 1852 the old Susquehanna district, after an existence of forty-nine years, ceased in name, being parceled out among the four districts of which the Wyoming annual conference, which was organized this year, was composed. Under the new arrangement,
that part of old Wyalusing circuit which was in Bradford County was included in the Wyoming district, of which Mr. Shepard was the presiding elder. In 1854 the Wyalusing district was formed, with George Landon its presiding elder. It embraced fourteen charges and a membership of 3123 persons. O these the following, with the preachers in charge, were in this county, viz.; Le Raysville, Ira D. Warren; Wyalusing, Luther Peck; Rome, J.V. Newell; Orwell, C. Perkins; Litchfield, William Kinney; Windham, supply.
Le Raysville was the old Pike charge, which had been separated from Wyalusing in 1832, the name having been changed in 1850. The first parsonage in all this territory was built within the bounds of this charge in 1815 or 1816, about half a mile above Stevensville. It stood near the large watering trough; but it has long since passed away. From this humble home the old preachers used to start on their four weeks’ tour to preach the gospel to the inhabitants of this then wilderness county. It has societies in Le Raysville, Prattville, and South Warren, and at each of these places a house of worship. There is also an appointment on Ford street. There are 144 members. The church property, including parsonage, is valued at $7500. J.R. Angel is the pastor.
Wyalusing was only a very small remnant of the old circuit. The old class at Gideon Baldwin’s had passed away, and for a number of years the place seems to have been abandoned by the Methodists. In 1840 it was included in the Skinner’s Eddy charge. In 1843, H. Brownscombe reorganized the class and entered it upon the records as "Wyalusing and Browntown" classes. It consisted of 29 members, 11 o whom resided at Wyalusing, and 4 of the 11 were soon transferred to Asylum. In 1854 the class consisted of 8 members; in 1870, of 56.
In 1870 the charge included four preaching places, viz., Wyalusing, Spring Hill, Camptown, and Herrick. Lime Hill formerly was also attached to this charge. In 1870 the charge was divided, and Herrick was made a separate field. Wyalusing and Spring Hill, with their dependencies, - Indian Hill and Browntown, - constitute the charge. At each place there is a society, and at Spring Hill a church. In 1854 a modest appearing brick edifice fifty feet by thirty-four was erected for the use of the congregation, at a cost of $1800. It has very recently been handsomely repaired. In 1874 a parsonage was secured for the use of the minister, who, at present, is E.J. Roberts. The membership numbers 258; value of church property, $5500.
Rome charge was set off in 1853. They have a fine church building, which was erected in 1850. There are societies at Rome, Towner Hill, Myersburg, and Pond Hill. At Myersburg there is a good church building. The charge has a membership of 160, and the church and parsonage property are valued at $6200. G.R. Williams is the present pastor.
Orwell, as has before been stated, is the successor of Wyalusing, the name having been changed in 1839. The house of worship was dedicated March 22, 1839, and was the first built by the Methodists in the territory, and was regarded as a very important enterprise. As indicating the manners of the times, it is said many refused to assist in raising the building because, according to custom, the trustees refused to furnish whisky, and declared that none should be used. The old church, which is still standing, though several times repaired and once moved, has been a rallying-point for the denomination for forty years, and many times, especially on quarterly-meeting occasions, has been crowded to its utmost capacity. The church reports a total membership of 163, and is under the pastoral care of J.B. Davis. It has societies at Orwell, North Orwell, and South Hill. There is a church building at North Orwell, and the total value of the church property is estimated at $4700.
Litchfield was made a distinct charge in 1851. The minutes report 120 members, 2 churches and a parsonage, which are valued at $3000, and is under the pastoral care of E.N. Sabin. It is connected with the Owego district.
Windham was set off in 1856, and formed a part of the Owego district, but was attached to Wyalusing district in 1869. In 1872 it was transferred to the Owego district again, where it has since remained. It reports 280 members, one church building, and one parsonage, valued at $4200. A.W. Loomis is the pastor. A considerable part of this charge lied in the State of New York.
Hornbrook was made a separate field in 1869, and was attached to Owego district until 1872, when it was transferred to Wyalusing. They have a pleasant house of worship at Hornbrook, and another at Ghent, both of which are estimated at $6000. There are societies at both these places, and also at Gillett’s. The pastor is Silas Barner.
Herrick, as has before been said, was erected into a distinct field of labor in 1870, and P.R. Tower was appointed its first pastor. It has societies at Herrick, East Herrick, Camptown, Lime Hill, and Standing Stone. At the latter place is the only church building on the charge, valued at $750. There is a parsonage at Camptown worth $1200. William Keatly is the pastor. It reports a membership of 185.
In 1855 a new charge was set off, called Appalachian, but connected with the Owego district. It was partly in this county and partly in the State of New York. In 1856 it was added to the Wyalusing district, and the name afterward changed to Little Meadows.
In 1866 the Rush mission was established, with an appointment at Stevensville, in this county. A part of the Skinner’s Eddy charge is also in Bradford County.
In 1859, George Harmon Blakeslee was appointed to be presiding elder of the district, in the place of George Landon. Mr. Blakeslee was followed by Henry Brownscombe in 1863. D.C. Olmstead was next presiding elder, who was succeeded by Luther Peck in 1871, and he by I.T. Walker in 1874, the present incumbent.
In 1876 the district purchased a fine grove containing twenty-three acres, located on the Montrose railroad, near Dimock, which has been very pleasantly fitted up for camp meeting purposes.
There are now 10 Methodist preachers employed in eastern Bradford; there are also 19 church buildings and 8 parsonages, and a membership of about 1800 persons. Sabbath schools were early introduced, and every charge has one or more under its care. They number 26, and have an average attendance of 1810 pupils. Besides the regular preachers.
The 19 church edifices are valued at $43,250, and the 8 parsonages at $8100.
We will now return to that part of old Tioga circuit on the west side of the river. During the existence of the Susquehanna district there were the same presiding elders as on the Wyalusing circuit.
In 1818, Marmaduke Pearce is the presiding elder, John Griffing and Andrew Peck the preachers, on the Tioga circuit, which still extended into New York State. That part lying in Pennsylvania is described as about "one-half the circuit, which embraced twenty-six regular, besides occasional appointments, and some three hundred miles’ travel to meet them. In all this extent of country we had two so-called meeting houses. The walls of one, situated on Sugar creek, consisted of hewed logs, with a door, floor, and pulpit to match." The other was the Light meeting house in New York. "Our weekly and semi-monthly worship was held chiefly in school and private houses, being often of the rudest character as to material and construction. The quarterly and extra meetings were usually held in barns.
After Marmaduke Pearce, the presiding elders were George Lane, in 1818, Fitch Reed, in 1823, and George Peck, D.D., in 1824. In 1826, at his own request, Dr. Peck was released from the care of the district, and Horace Agard appointed in his place. The district embraced the following charges: Ithaca, Spencer, and Wyalusing; Owego, Bridgewater, and Broome; Tioga, Bainbridge, Canaan, Wyoming, and Caroline; and at the close of 1825 foots up 3974 members. In 1824 and in 1825 George Evans was the preacher on Tioga circuit. During all these years Father Cole was the chief preacher in all the Tioga charge and in regions beyond. At one place, it is said, "Father Cole preached a characteristic discourse from ‘the cloud coming up from the sea the bigness of a man’s hand.’ In treating his subject he said he should first philosophize it; second, analogize it; and third, theologize it. It was a singular sermon, but quite ingenious and not without practical effect." In 1827 the membership of the district had increased to 9307. In 1828 the old Genesee conference was divided, and the Susquehanna district, or what was left of it, was included in the Oneida conference formed that year; but Tioga circuit is found connected with the Steuben district, of which John Copeland is the presiding elder. Asa Orcott was the preacher this year on the circuit. Our territory is now divided between two conferences; that part west of the river continues in the Genesee, that east of the river is in the Oneida conference. Mr. Copeland says, "But little occurred during the year of special interest except our advance in the erection of church edifices. At the commencement of the year there were but three on all the districts, namely: at Bath, on Sugar Creek, Pennsylvania [Burlington, built in 1822], and Oak Hill." In 1830, Robert Burch was placed in charge of the Steuben district in the place of John Copeland, who was appointed agent for the Genesee Wesleyan seminary. In 1831 the district reported 3720 members.
The name of the district was changed to Seneca Lake in 1832, and Manly Tooker was appointed its presiding elder. In 1835 we find the Sugar Creek circuit has taken the place of Tioga in this county, with John W. Vaughan the preacher in charge, where he had a good revival, in 1836. At the conference of this year, Rev. B. shipman was put in charge of Seneca Lake district, and in 1837 he was superseded by Jonas Dodge, who in turn the next year was followed by John H. Wallace. There seem for some reasons to be frequent changes in the presiding eldership of this district. J. Pearsall, with Ira Smith for his colleague, were the preacher on the Sugar Creek circuit this year , and report that forty were brought to Christ, and at the time twenty-one were received. At Towanda, Philo E. Brown, the preacher in charge, reported twenty converted, and the work still progressing. This year Towanda was separated from the Sugar Creek charge, and made a distinct field. The next year there is a new station, called Alden station, which recommended Sevellon W. Alden to the conference of 1839, to be taken on trial for deacon’s orders. This year numerous revivals were reported. In the Towanda, Canton, and Burlington [formerly Sugar Creek] charges the work was extensive. In 1840, J.K. Tinkham was the preacher on Burlington circuit, and R.T. Hancock on the Troy circuit, both of whom reported revivals this year. In 1841, Jonas Dodge was appointed presiding elder of the Seneca Lake district, in place of J.H. Wallace. Israel H. Kellogg was stationed at Towanda in 1842-43, and in the evening of the same day he arrived some found the pearl of great price, this happy beginning being succeeded by scores of conversions and many additions to the church. In 1845, Jonas Dodge having completed his quadrennial, John W. Nevins was appointed to succeed him in the charge of Seneca Lake district.
In 1848 the Genesee conference was divided, and that part to which the churches in western Bradford were attached was called the "East Genesee conference." At the first meeting of the new conference a new district was formed called the Troy district, which included the churches of the old Tioga circuit lying west of the Susquehanna. There were seven of them, viz., Burlington, Towanda, Monroeton, Canton, Troy, Smithfield, and Athens, - the latter church was subsequently set off to the Oneida conference. Mr. Nevins was succeeded by Thomas Carlton, in 1849, Sevellon W. Alden, in 1853, Enoch H. Cranmer, in 1857. Both these brethren were from the same neighborhood and the same charge. In 1861, Rev. T.B. Hudson was appointed to the charge of the district, followed by Revs. Wesley Cochran, in 1865, D.W.C. Huntington, in 1869, E.J. Hermans, in 1873, and John W. Wentworth, D.D., in 1877, who is now at the head of the district.
There are now fifteen charges in that part of this district lying in Bradford County, of each of which the following items may be of interest.
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