The Reverend Mr. David Craft
Regular Baptist *
The Baptists (without prefix or affix) believe that proper baptism, which with them signifies immersion, precedes the Lord’s Supper, and that (while “calling no man Master”) the Calvinistic system is nearer the teaching of the Bible than the Arminian. The great trouble in tracing their history on this field is the lack of records, and the fact that the real pioneers are no more. They had few advantages for learning, and toiled hard for bread; but they loved to serve God and man, with few thoughts of leaving written memorials. Some of their records may have been mislaid or lost, but most of their knowledge is buried with their bones.
My chief sources of information are the printed minutes of Chemung association for 1797,1802,1805 to 1841, and 1869; the Bradford association minutes; and some minutes of other associations with which our churches have been connected. Some church books are accessible; local histories have been compared; Elder Smiley’s records have been searched; and some friends supplied such items as they could. Usually, just before an association meets, each church connected with it makes out, from records and from memory, its changes for the year past; but sometimes the church book is not made to correspond with the letter thus made up and forwarded. Unless errors occur, the associational records (as far as they go) may be the more reliable in case of any discrepancy between church and associational statistics. It should constantly be borne in mind that printed minutes refer to associational, and mot to calendar years. The former ended at different times between June and November, so that events recorded in minutes of 1820 may have transpired in 1819. And so of other years. The associational year covering parts of two years as usually computed, it often only approximates exactness, unless day and months are expressly stated.
The task of searching back nearly a hundred years together
the widely scattered annals of forty different organizations, is more than
one can conceive without the trial. Facts and names may be overlooked,
and errors may occur in transcribing or printing, but correctness has been
sought, and only leading incidents are given
*Contributed by Mr. O.N. Worden.
Early English Preaching in this County—Rogers and Cano.
In the Sullivan Indian expedition of 1779 were two Baptist
chaplains, William Rogers, D.D.,€ and John Gano,# both men of superior
gifts and attainments. Dr. Rogers was with the main force, under General
Sullivan, which came up the North Branch. We find two sermons were delivered
during the two weeks of waiting, on Tioga Point, the arrival of General
Clinton, with whom was Mr. Gano. The occasions were such as to cause them
to be referred to, while ordinary religious services were not recorded.
It will be remembered that on the 13th of August a force was sent to destroy
the Indian town up the Chemung, when seven of our men were killed. Their
bodies were tenderly brought back to camp, and on Saturday were buried
with military honors, after “a small discourse by Parson Rogers,” –Colonel
Hubley, from whose journal this is quoted, meaning by “small” only
that it was short. On the 23rd of April preceding, a small force, coming to the relief of Wyoming, had been surprised east of Wilkes-Barre, and Captain Davis, Lieutenant Jones, Corporal Butler, and three private fell. Davis and Jones, being Freemasons, were buried, with the customary rites of the order, in July, at Wilkes-Barre. While still waiting at Tioga, the opportunity was afforded for the sermon, and Dr. Rogers, by request, “delivered a discourse, in Masonic form,” on the death of those two officers, from Job vii. 7, “Remember that my life is wind.” There is no record of sermons excepting these two, under peculiar circumstances, from Dr. Rogers. If there were others (as doubtless there were), Gano most likely contributed at least one. In his brief sketch of himself on this tour, he only states that some young men voluntarily came to him for religious instruction. These were the first English sermons of which we read in this county.0
€Dr. Rogers, born in R.I., in 1751 was the first student in what is now Brown university, and graduated in the first class (1769). At the age of twenty-one he was ordained pastor of the First Baptist church in Philadelphia. He served as chaplain from 1776 to 1781, was twenty years professor of English and oratory in the University of Pennsylvania, was a member of the State legislature, and died in 1824, aged seventy-three.
#John Gano, of Huguenot origin, born in Hopewell, N.J.,
in 1727, was ordained in 1754. Missionating in the south, he once preached
with credit before Whitefield and a dozen other ministers. In 1762 he settled
in New York City. Was chaplain after the British conquest of that city,
until peace came. In 1787, settled in Kentucky, where he died, 1804, aged
seventy-eight. Mr. Bowen, an Episcopal minister, ranked Mr. Gano as unsurpassed
by any minister of his day; and Henry Clay said, “Of all the preachers
I ever heard, John Gano made me feel the most that religion was a divine
No sooner had the Revolutionary was closed. Than the Trenton Decree gave the government of northeastern Pennsylvania to this State. The right of soil was not specifically decided, but sagacious men foresaw that further contest, at least in the Valley, was not advisable, when other good land could be had without the recurrence of the former strifes. As soon as 1783, valuable settlers began to leave Wyoming,- a few for distant Ohio, but most pushed up the North Branch of the Susquehanna, perhaps a majority settling on the Chemung and its tributaries. Some tarried only for a time in Pennsylvania, but others settled for life on both sides of the great river, or on the Wyalusing, Wysox, Towanda, or Sugar creeks, while a few began to climb the hills, where, at greater toil and in longer time, they found equally good homes. Among those earliest settlers in Bradford were Baptist, of Separate or “New Light” origin, with something of the fire and energy of Whitfield and his evangelical associates. They came prepared to war with nature in its wildest state, with savage beasts, and cruel men, if need be. Imagination may paint how they spent their time and what were their thoughts and efforts religiously, but none survived to tell, and records are few and brief.
First Baptist church
in the Region—Chemung, now Wellsburg, N.Y.
Soon after the strife with the mother country ceased, the step-mother, about 1787, dispossessed the Connecticut settlers near Muncy, on the West Branch. Before settling again, most of them made sure of getting on the north side of the State line. Among them were some Baptist, who, at what is now Wellsburg, Sept. 2, 1789, entered into a covenant to worship together and to watch over each other in love. Oct. 13, 1791, they were acknowledged by a council as an independent church called ” Chemung.” They comprised twenty-one members, most of them from Warwick, Pittston, and the West Branch, and the males had nearly all been soldiers of the Revolutions. With some changes of name, but little of location, that church remains to this day, after having given off members to form several other churches, which in turn have contributed to form still others, north and west. Their first pastor, Roswell Goff, was born in Columbia Co., N.Y., served in the Revolution, came from Pittston to Chemung with a license to preach, was ordained when the church was constituted, and was the Baptist patriarch of the Chemung valley until his death, at Big Flats, or Sing Sing, in 1825, aged seventy-two years.
Ulster-Sheshequin Baptist Conference.
Near 1791, the Baptists between Athens and Towanda began to hold meetings on each side of the river alternately. Their only supply of whom we have knowledge was Moses Park, from Preston, Conn. He was baptized in Warwick, N.Y., in 1788, licensed in eastern Connecticut on his return there, and in 1792 began to preach along the Susquehanna. Elder Smiley, who came to Wyalusing in 1794, and was well acquainted up to Seneca lake, states the Mr. Park was never ordained, nor were his people recognized as a church by sister bodies; and all concurrent church associational and denominational records, in failing to name such a church or minister, confirms his statement. Warwick church had recently taken pains to prevent the ordination, at Chemung, of Dr. Amos Park, who ran a similar career to that of his relative, Moses. The latter married a daughter of Gen. Simon Spaulding, a leading Universalist, and in the summer of 1793, from an extreme Calvinist, Mr. ark became a proclaimer of universal salvation. He was an acting magistrate for some time, and died in Athens, 1817,aged fifty-one years. Some of his family went with him, but one son has long been a useful Methodist preacher. Joseph Kinney, Esq., and others whose respectability gave them influence, went with Mr. Parks, went with Mr. Parks, and Sheshequin and Athens soon became the Mecca of Universalism. This defection, at the tome when French infidelity was so prevalent, was proclaimed far and wide. The failure of this first movement to form a Baptist church in the county was greatly detrimental to the cause for a time, but the Smith brothers,* Judge Gore’s wife, and others remained firm, and were promoters of the truth “even down to old age.”
Ulster has had a singular religious record. The scattering of the conference led to some of her Baptist to join in the New Bedford movement soon afterwards. In 1810, Ulster had a majority in what is now Smithfield church. While Ulster included Sheshequin, it had members with Wysox (Elder West’s) church. In 1824, Upper Ulster originated Athens and Ulster (now Waverly) church. After 1840, a conference in Lower Ulster, comprising Deacon Elliott. Waltman, Fuller, and about ten others, threw in their strength with the cause at Towanda. And so Ulster, while helping to form two Baptist churches north, one east and one south, and one west, has never had one wholly her own for any considerable time. The Methodist had a similar experience on the Sheshequin side, but have revived at Horn Brook, and the Methodist and Free-Will Baptists each have a church in or near Ghent.
*Lockwood Smith, Sr., and Joseph Smith, Sr., from Dutchess Co., N.Y., brothers by birth and in faith, were both soldiers of the Revolution, and were early settlers below “ Queen Esther’s flats,” Upper Ulster. Lockwood died in 1832, aged eighty-nine, and Joseph in 1834, aged eighty- seven. At the house of Joseph Smith was formed the present Smithfield Church, in 1810, and also what is now Waverly church, in 1824, the two churches now having over 600 members. How many other Baptist conferences were welcomed around his hearth-stone, we know not------“Old Mother Gore”---Anna Avery in her youth, widow of Judge Gore—continued to keep his house open, as a “ministers’ tavern,” in Sheshequin, where Elder West and others at times celebrated the Lord’s Supper with a few members. She died in 1829, aged eighty-five.
Two Neighboring Churches.
Southward- In June 1794 arose Braintrim church, to which early Baptist in the Wyalusing regions were attached. Their pastor was Samuel Sturdevant, Sr., from Connecticut, a Revolutionary soldier, who settled on Black Walnut bottom. He was ordained when more than fifty years of age, and was a faithful preacher, mostly at his own expense, over a large tract of country. He died 1828, aged eighty-seven, leaving a large and honored posterity. One grandson, Davis Dimock Gray, is now the pastor (at Laceyville) of Braintrim church.
Northward- In February 1796, arose New Bedford church, afterwards called “Owego,” next “ Tioga, N.Y.,” and now known as Tioga and Barton church. The field was both sides of the North Branch, between Owego and Braintrim. Its founder was David Jayne, a soldier of the Revolution as supposed, from Orange, Co., N.Y. In 1801 he took up lands at or near Van Ettenville, N.Y., where, about 1808, he lost his standing in this church by embracing the doctrine of annihilation. It is reported he died about 1832, aged eighty. Baptist on the river, and some on Sugar creek as far west as Troy, joined New Bedford. Wellsburg would have been nearer to some had there been good roads across the hills, but earlier river and creek roads made New Bedford most easy of access.
First Baptist Association
In the fall of 1796, at Wellsburg, was formed the “Chemung Baptist Association.” There was then no similar body north to the Pole, nor west to the Pacific. It comprised five churches, -Chemung, Sanrootson (Wayne), Romulus, and New Bedford, in New York, and Braintrim in Pennsylvania,--reaching from near the Wyoming valley to the foot of Seneca lake. All membership aggregated 111 souls. From time to time, about thirty other churches united with Chemung, but its field was constantly narrowed by the formation—in part from this—of other associations on every side.*
*It may be remarked that Baptist associations have only advisory powers, each church conducting its own internal affairs, but the association reserving the right to withdraw from any church deemed too erroneous in doctrine, or corrupt in practice, to be retained in fellowship.
First Baptist Church.
“Towanday” (creek), now West Franklin. -There were early settlers from Wyoming, from Warwick, and from Connecticut, up the Towanda Creek. They soon had religious meetings, for, on the 10th November, 1797, the Chemung association appointed two “supplies” for “ Towanday, “ both from Braintrim church, --Samuel Sturdevant to preach December, 1797, and Salmon Agard (who died soon after), January, 1798. In October 1799, the church of “Towanday” or “Tawanda” (spelled both ways in the minutes) joined the association, with 31 members. The church was raised-according to Smiley—“in the course of the preceding year,” probably in 1798, eighty years ago. Unusual religious interest had been awakened there under the preaching of Elders Goff and Jayne, the later baptizing Seeley Crofut (died 1849) and others.
Aaron Knapp, Esq. (died 1874, aged eighty –six), said
there was an early church-book, but it had been so eaten by mice that it
was destroyed in 1813, and thus perished the earliest memorial of our first
church, with perhaps a record of its first members.#
The central point of the church seems to have been at Deacon Crofut’s, between the villages of West Franklin and LeRoy. This deacon gathered in a log school-house, near S. B. Morse’s present home, the first Sabbath-school known in the region. Meetings were also held at David Allen’s, and at other points on Towanda creek and its tributaries, in what are now Bradford, Tioga, Lycoming, and Sullivan counties. At one time most of the members lived in what was then Canton Township, and the church was sometimes designated “ the Church of Christ in Canton.” In 1820 the name was changed to “Towanda & Franklin,” and again in 1821, to “Franklin.” In 1834, with 17 members last reported, the name disappeared.
In 1837, Franklin & Monroe church joined the Bradford association, with 33 members, 12 newly baptized. They soon separated, each township having a church. “Franklin” re-organized in 1839. It had 10 baptized in 1840, 17 in 1850, -in all, 50,--when it was dropped, in 1860, with 29 members.
#Other early members were Nancy Tucker, wife of Elder
Smiley; Hannah Holcomb, wife of Deacon Crofut; Eunice, wife of John Knapp;
David Allen and wife, Samuel Knapp, James Crofut, Mr.—Stone, Jeremiah Taylor
(died 1827, aged fifty-five), Aaron Cook, Isaac Allen, Jesse Morse, Sarah
Smith, Joanna Lattimer,- as gathered from incidental
records and tradition.
The records of twelve years are not found, but it appears
that in seven decades the church received 137 by baptizism, and 64 in other
ways,--over 200 in all. Adding constituent members and fair estimates for
the years unreported, there have been probably 300 members of this mother
church. Dismissions by letter, exclusions for cause, erasures for absences,
and deaths have constantly been reducing its membership, which was never
large at any one time. Several churches may be regarded as offshoots from
this. In 1814, 30 were baptized, but we have no other account of any extensive
revival in this church.
The recorded early pastors* or supplies were Thomas Smiley (here ordained, 1802), 1801 to 1808, who died in White Deer, 1832, aged seventy-three; Nehemiah H. Ripley, 1814-15 (afterwards disfellowshipped in the west); Jonathan Stone, 1818-19 (died in Michigan, 1844, aged fifty-five); and “blind John Sawyer” in 1833 (last known in Sullivan, Pa., 1836). Tradition adds Levi Baldwin, who died in Wyalusing, 1872, aged eighty-six, and Hezekiah West (died on a visit to Illinois, 1845, aged sixty-seven), at some interval. Under Bradford association there were Isaac D. Jones, who died in South Dansville, N.Y., in 1857, aged fifty-six; James R. Burdick (died in Ithaca, N.Y., 1867, aged seventy), J.J. Eberle, a Fairchild, Isaac B. Lake (died in Le Roy, 1872, aged sixty-one), Elam Bennett (died in Springfield, 1863, aged seventy-one), Charles R. Levering (now of Granville Summit), E. Burroughs (now of Alba), Ebenezer Loomis (died in Alb, 1873, aged seventy-eight), Benjamin Jones (now of Evergreen P.O.) Thomas B. Jayne (now of Clark’s Green P.O.), Richard Woodward, M.V. Bronk, and C. H. Crowl (now of LeRoy P.O.), -at least fourteen in the last forty years,--too thin seeding to expect large crops. Perhaps few, if any were able to devote all their time to the Master’s business.
Among the early deacons were Seeley Crofut, Alpheus Holcomb. Since 1838, William Lewis (died in East Smithfield, 1871, aged seventy-seven), A. Taylor, David Fairchild, Samuel Webber (died 1875, aged sixty-seven), Hiram Burroughs (died 1875), and Calvin Varney.
The known clerks were Deacon Crofut, Deacon Holcomb, Luther
Hinman, and Aaron
Knapp. Since 1838, Aziel Taylor, H.W. Whittaker, Thomas T. Smiley, William Roberts, J.J. Hammond, David Smiley, C. Varney, and E. H. Crayton.
John Knapp, Sr., was appointed first “chorister,” an office not perpetuated, although most churches take some oversight of the singing portion of divine service.
Elder Smiley, David Allen, perhaps John Knapp, and others, were Revolutionary soldiers, as well as pioneers, who endured hardships in laying the foundations of civil and religious freedom.
*Names in italics were licensed ministers at the date, although most of them were subsequently ordained. In this and other lists, names are given in order of service with the church as nearly as can be obtained. Place, date, and age at death are given when known. In some cases, doubtless, there were preachers, deacons, and clerks of whom we have not the record.
Second Church—Sugar Creek
The Connecticut “Juddsburg, on Sugar creek,” is now Burlington. In 1799, Sugar Creek church joined Chemung association with 47 members. Smiley says, “David Jayne had preached in his warm way, about fifteen miles up the creek, and baptized some of the Swain family, and others, who had been Methodists.” Deacon Moses Calkins, a pioneer of 1793, who settled so far west that, for some time, he had no neighbor in that direction, was a member. But Elder Jayne moved further off, leaving the church with little or no pastoral care; the population was unstable; and the land strife was so bitter and unreasonable that some of the congregation, if not of the church, were suspected to have been among those who abused Elder Smiley, in the summer of 1801, because he advised submission to the Pennsylvania title, and accepted a sub-agency under the intrusion law. The fall ensuing, the church was dropped by the association. Another organization, afterwards effected, was not received. The Methodists had the first church, and have proved permanent. The Baptists, in 1808, again rallied in the west end of the township, now called Troy. The Free-Will Baptists organized, about 1822, in East Troy, and that is their strongest church in the county.
It may be well here to give an account of the labors of
Domestic Missionaries in Bradford.
Early in 1802 was formed the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society “to promote the knowledge of evangelical truth in the new settlements of the United States, or farther if circumstances should render it proper.” It commenced, in September, the publication of a magazine, which has added much to the completeness of this record. Peter Philanthropos Roots, A.M., one of its appointees, preaching on the way, gave discourses in Athens on the 1st and 2d of July, 1805, proceeded up the Chemung, and thus spent three months teaching and visiting from house to house. In that year he rode 3804 miles, preached 372 times, baptized 26 persons, helped bury the dead, and performed other useful offices. This may suffice--once for all--as a specimen of the “labors abundant” of men of his calling. In the spring of 1807, he itinerated in Susquehanna and Wayne counties, and in almost every township, from Wilkes-Barre up the river into New York. He was again on the ground in 1819, and perhaps at other times. Once he asked to go upon his own charges. A “ knight-errant” in the cause, sometimes accompanied by his wife, he wrought in eighteen States and the Canadas, dying in West Mendon, N.Y., 1828, aged sixty-four years. He was a noble specimen of a true home missionary.
The Danbury (Conn.) association commissioned Benjamin Baldwin, of Sandisfield, Mass. In the fall of 1807 he preached at Smith’s, below Athens; at Case’s on Sugar creek; at Fowler’s on the south branch of the Towanda; at Gridley’s, in Orwell; up the Wyalusing to “Hind’s settlement” (Montrose), through to Great Bend, etc., homeward. He died in 1810.
In the fall of 1808, Jesse Hartwell, of western Massachusetts, deputed by the society of that State, made a tour, reaching Bradford in November, and helping to organize the church in Troy. In 1809-10, with Asa Todd, he aided in forming the Smithfield church. Hartwell also visited Wysox, and attended the recognition of the church in Harford, Susquehanna County, September 1812. In 1814-15, and perhaps at other times, he “blazed the trees” at points, in this moral wilderness, which were “found” by succeeding missionaries. He settled in northeastern Ohio, where he died, 1860, in his eighty-ninth year. Todd died in Chesterfield, Mass., 1847, aged ninety-two.
The “Country Missionary Society,” located in the region
where Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts adjoins, sent out Samuel
King, of Wendall, Mass. While on his tour, he died at Deacon Wood’s, in
Springfield, Sept. 30,1812, aged fifty-two. Far from his family, he found
Christian friends; and an inscribed stone marks his resting place in the
Allen burying ground, northwest of Smithfield village. Edward Davenport,
of Colerain, Mass., from the society of that State, 1817 to 1822, filled
appointments, reaching from Bradford into McKean county, with much encouragement.
He died in 1863, in his ninetieth year. In 1817, Andrew Sherburne, a Revolutionary
soldier from Arundel, Maine, missionated in this region. About 1818, Samuel
Churchill, from Littleton, N.H., and Jonathan Stone, a resident, labored
under appointments from the Massachusetts society. Near the same time,
Benjamin Oviatt, from New York, sustained by the Chemung society, assisted
in the great revival in Smithfield, and settled in Columbia township. He
removed into McKean county about 1824, and died at Hornellsville, 1864,
aged eighty. There were perhaps some from abroad, itinerating on this field,
whose names have not met my eye, and there others who, not acting under
the direction of any society, while visiting family or other friends, or
looking out for homes, performed gospel labor her, with little or no compensation.
Ministers from neighboring fields attended associations, ordainations,
and councils, or aided in revivals; and these interchanges of gifts were
often highly prized and advantageous. Besides those elsewhere named, may
be added John Caton, once on the staff of General Washington, from Maryland
as is supposed, who was pastor at Romulus as late as 1830; Samuel Bigalow,
of Massachusetts, in Steuben county early as 1816; Minor Thomas, from Danbury,
Conn., to Calvert, N.Y., thence to Indiana where he died 1830, aged sixty;
first preacher at Montrose, died 1858, in his eighty-third year.
The New England societies gradually withdrew from Bradford
to till other fields deemed more needy. Associational societies in New
York had sent out ministers south, west and North. About 1822 these local
societies were merged into the “Baptist Missionary Convention of the State
of New York,”—
Chemung excepted, which located in both States, continued its separate labors until about 1827. In 1825 the New York convention began to operate in northern Pennsylvania by sending—with others into other counties—James Clark (who died at his early home in Massachusetts, 1868, aged eighty) into Bradford County. In 1832 the convention sent here James Parsons (died in Canton, 1854, aged sixty-four) and Joseph W. Parker (died near Montrose, 1866, aged sixty-eight). In 1838, Charles A. Fox (died in Wilkes-Barre, 1871, aged sixty-three) and Truman Hendryx. In 1837, James R.Burdick. In 1841, George M. Spratt, D.D. (now in Philadelphia). Some of these were sustained, wholly or partially, on this ground for years in succession. About this time, New York began to withdraw from the field, leaving it to the Pennsylvania convention, which, having the same object, began to send in and aid laborers here.
Our mother States of New England, with New York and Pennsylvania, have thus been expended thousands of dollars to sustain the common cause in this country.
Coming without appointments or proper credentials, a few pretended ministers—foxes or wolves—at times imposed themselves upon the unsuspecting, more easily than they can in this day of religious periodicals; but those were formally commissioned, without exception, as far as known, were men of decided ability and piety. Their salary averaged perhaps five dollars per week; they rode on horseback over poor roads or along blind paths, scores or hundreds of miles from their loved ones, encountering rough fare, real hardships and dangers, and severe toil in the Master’s service, with courage and joy. They were generally welcomed and hospitably entertained by religious men and others. Those who were not Christians were not “gospel-hardened,” although their long deprivation of the Bible and church institutions had led some into deplorable follies and vices.* Preachers were heard with general respect and interest, while many, who had been church members elsewhere, received them with joy that was an inspiration in laboring. Many are still remembered with much affection. Instrumentally, they raised several churches, and where Sabbaths were desecrated and many kinds of wickedness reigned, temporal prosperity and sound morals now prevail. Beautiful upon the mountains were the feet of those who thus toiled to make the wilderness blossoms as the rose!
• Jan.15, 1810, Esq. Wood wrote that there were “numbers of settlements which never had a gospel sermon preached in them,” and that there was but one ordained Baptist minister in the space of “more than fifty square miles.”
“Burlington Baptist Church” (now Troy)
This is the first church in the county of which we have definite records. Early in 1808, Elder Rich and son, which others from Vermont and several who had been long sighing for religious company, met for worship and consultation, desiring that a church might be constituted. The visit of missionary Hartwell was improved, and on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 1808, a church was recognized, containing as many members as the world had people at the close of the deluge. The “eight” were Elisha Rich, Sr. (died 1812, aged seventy-one), Russell Rose (died in Tioga county, 1830, aged seventy-seven), Moses Calkins, James Mattison, Phoebe Rich, Peggy Rich and Lydia Rose (all dead threescore and ten years afterwards). March 25, 1809, four months after organization, they appointed Aaron Case, E. Rich, Jr., John Barber, and Eli Parsons a building committee. May 6, 1809, six weeks after resolving to build, and six months after organization, the church entered a very commodious house of worship for the times, built of hewn logs, with galleries on three sides, on lands given by Elisa Rich, east of Troy village, now used for a burial place. A general reformation had been experienced through the region. We have no details, but the eight members had increased to seventy-eight when the church joined the Chemung association, Nov.1, 1809. The west end of Burlington, in which was the house of worship, being erected into Troy township in 1821, the name of the church was changed to correspond. Its second framed meeting-house, in the south part of the village of Troy, was dedicated June 2, 1836, and was remodeled in 1867 at a cost of $2500. In 1874 a parsonage was provided, which Elder Sheardown occupied a short time before his death. Armenia church was formed from Troy, which has contributed to other new churches. The principal revivals enjoyed by the church are indicated by the baptism of 60 in 1809, of 17 in 1810, of 33 in 1839, of 21 in 1843, of 13 in 1854, of 19 in 1858 and of 31 in 1876. In all, 300 baptisms have been reported, and the church has had 506 different members in its seventy years’ existence. Like most of our churches, it has increased in its earlier years by immigration, but of late it has lost more than it has gained by the changes of population. Its present is its highest membership, -117.
We glean from minutes chiefly the following list of ministers serving this church; Elisha Rich, Sr., Elisha Rich, Jr., Isaiah Butler (returned to New York), David A. Balcom, 1819; Benjamin Oviatt, 1822; James Parsons, 1826, and other times; Levi Baldwin, Benj. G. Avery (became O.S., died in Illinois about 1853); E. Rich, Jr., again; John Sawyer, Daviel M. Root, 1833 (now in Iowa); Samuel Bullock, Jr. (ordained and died in Tioga county about 1853); E. Rich, Jr., again; Alfred Pinney, 1839 (now in Brooklyn, N.Y.); Henry C. Coombs, 1840 (now in Massachusetts); Edward Ely, 1841 (late in Winona); Job Leach, 1842; John M. Coggshall, 1843; Joseph W. Parker, 1844; Wm. H.H. Dwyer (now in East Smithfield), 1848; Thomas Mitchell, Jr. (now in Colorado), 1853 to 1860; Thomas S. Sheardown, from 1860 to his death, in 1874, aged eighty-three (except 1872, when Simon K. Boyer served); and Charles T. Hallowell, since 1875. There may have been a few other short terms of supplies. George M. Spratt labored in a revival, 1843. Myron Rockwell, licensed here, was ordained and now labors in Tioga County. But few have devoted their whole time to this one field.
Ordained here,--E. Rich, Jr., in 1809; E. Ely, in 1841; and J.M. Coggshall, in 1843; all licensed before coming; the last two from Hamilton seminary.
Deacons known- Eli Parsons (died in Columbia, 1834, aged seventy-eight), James Mattison, Moses Calkins, Adrial Hibbard, Nathan Alvord (died 1847), Rufus Rockwell (died 1873, aged seventy-two), R. A. Garrison (died 1846), B. S. Tears, Azor Rockwell, Caleb S. Burt, Andrus Case.
Clerk since 1831- Luther Rockwell, R. A. Garrison, Daniel Dobbins, C.M. Deforest (died 1864), D.P. Benedict, F.J. Calkins, Azor Rockwell, George F. Lament, W. B. Gernert.
Rose, Calkins, Parsons and it is supposed some other pioneer members, were soldiers of the Revolution. Joseph Wills (died 1848, aged ninety-five), Hickok, Barnes, Williams, Lamb, etc., were Baptist families.
Bradford Churches #2
Alba-Canton (now Alba Borough) Church
Early in the century, among the leading, intelligent pioneers from Vermont, were Noah Wilson, the large Rockwell family, Pratts, Smiths, and others, embracing several Baptist. Those who settled near Alba, in the north and west parts of old Canton township, were visited by Elder Smiley and others, and some were baptized. In 1809 the Chemung association, upon request, advised the brethren to call a council, by which a church was recognized, probably in December. It was named Alba, and, Hartwell was told, comprised seventeen members. Shortly after, the following letter appeared in the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine of September 1810:
“To the Female Mite Societies who contribute to the funds
of the Baptist Missionary Society in Massachusetts:
“Beloved Mothers and Sisters,--We swell in the wilderness, where we know but little of what is doing in the ancient part of our country. But, by the blessing of God on the labors of faithful missionaries and others, we have been taught our undone condition as being slaves to sin and Satan and at enmity with God. But as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness for the healing of the wounded Israelites, so has the Son of Man been lifted in this wilderness, and we hope we have felt the healing balm applied to our souls. A sense of this has filled us with joy full of glory. [They state that Elder Hartwell’s visit and information were much prized.] A goodly number who have been experienced the truth have been baptized, and a church has lately been formed among us. The prospect is still favorable that the good work will yet increase. Your labor has not been in vain in the Lord. May the blessings of thousands ready to perish fall on you, and a full reward be given you of the Lord, both in time and eternity. Dear sisters, (Signed) Fanny Powers, Melisa Smith, Jane Randal, Barthina Morse, Hannah Pratt, Luisa Smith, Synthia Morley, Deantha Blakeman, Mabel Morley, Polly Granideer, Melinda Wilson, Omira Wilson, Polly Van Vankerburgh
“Canton Luzerne County, Pa., January, 1810.”
Alba church joined Chemung association in 1810, with 13 members, to whom a few were added. Before the organization there was some lack of union in sentiment, which, added to want of harmony in discipline, so hindered advancement that in 1814 a peaceful dissolution was, upon advice, accomplished, some of the members uniting elsewhere and others remaining isolated. Their only published supply was Simeon Powers, of Vermont, who was ordained after helping to raise Columbia [Flats] church, and soon removed into Harmony, N.Y., where he raised a church, and died in 1842, aged seventy-three.
Dec. 9, 1817, a Baptist conference was formed in Canton at a time of revival under Elders Stone and Butler, who baptized quite a number during the winter. June 3, 1818, a council recognized Canton church with 25 members; increased to 35 on joining Chemung association the same year. They erected a log meeting-house on the east or lower of “Canton Corners” (now borough). In 1820, 10 were baptized and 20 at other times. There were 63 members in 1828 a division was apparent, in the reception if two letters by the Chemung association, which decided that the one signed by Wm. J. Greenleaf represented the Baptist church as constituted, and rejecting the one signed by the party of which Mr. Shepard was the leader. But the latter, claiming a majority of the of the members as they stood, held the records and property.
Soon after, ten of the minority recognized, and came into the association in 1830, reporting 29 members. In 1836 they built a meeting-house (since demolished) near Alba, worshiping also at Canton Corners a part of the time. They reported 39 baptisms in 1839, 36 in 1844, and others, to the number of 94 in all. In 1844 they dismissed about 40 to form a church in Union, Tioga county. In 1857 they changed their name from Canton to
The Baptist had organized in Canton village (1854), and those in Alba dedicated a new house of worship in August 1857. Reported 18 baptisms in 1860, 11 in 1870, and others to the number of 44. Subjected to an uncommon share of losses by emigration, this body, never large, was further reduced in 1876, by dismissing 11 members to reorganize Armenia church.
The pastors and supplies of Canton-Alba church have been Levi Baldwin, Roswell R. Rogers, Silas E. Shepard (died in Troy, 1877, aged seventy-six), Ebenezer S. Hubbell (Campbellite, died soon after), Peter Prink, 1835, James Parsons, James R. Burdick, 1839 to 1846; W.H.H. Dwyer, Isaac B. Lake, 1854; Jeremy H. Dwyer, 1855 (died in Smithfield, 1858, aged eighty-eight), Ebenezer Loomis, 1856 to 1868; Joseph L. Watson, 1868 to 1874 (now in Portland, Pa.); Geo. P. Watrous, Charles R. Levering, 1876; E. Burroughs, 1877.
Deacons—R.R. Rogers, Samuel Rockwell, Wm. J. Greenleaf (died 1862), Gilbert Elliott, Abraham Rundell (died 1874, aged seventy-nine), Silas Gray, A.M. Mix, Allen Crandall (died 1876, aged seventy)—Pierce, Charles G. Manley, J.T. Leonard, A.S. Manley.
Clerks—Elias Rockwell, Ebenezer Pratt, W.J. Greenleaf, Philip Hart, A. Rundell, Chester Pratt, W.J. Brigden, J.A. Compton, A.M. Mix, B. Taber, D.G. Greenleaf.
Other early Baptist families.---Blackwells, Palmer, Hoyt, etc.
In its checkered history of nearly seventy years, Canton township or Alba church has probably had 190 baptisms and 380 members.
Now called “Canton,” at the old “Corners,” was recognized November 1, 1854, with 18 members, some from Alba and Armenia fields, but mostly nearer by. They have since received by baptism, 12 in 1872, 18 in 1875, 16 in 1877, and others, making 76 in all; by letter 78; and by experience, 48, --the church growing with the borough in which it is located. The whole number who have been connected with the church is 220. Oct. 9, 1861, they dedicated a meeting-house, to which Elder Loomis had contributed $600.
The pastors have been W.H.H. Dwyer, from origin to 1856; Ebenezer Loomis, to 1866; James McDonald, Joseph L. Watson, 1867 to 1875; and George P. Watrous (now associational missionary). George McNair and E.A. Francis supplied during two special efforts. D.B.Channell is a resident licentiate. E. Burroughs were here ordained in 1865, and J.L. Watson in 1867; both from other churches.
Deacons—Abraham Rundell, James D. Hill, James McDonald, and LeRoy Gleason.
Clerks—James C. Parsons (died 1859), W.W. Spaulding, T.O. Hollis, W.V. Bacon, and James O. Whitman.
Other prominent members—Deacon James Gleason (a pioneer, died 1869), Jesse E. Bullock, Esq. (died 1875, aged seventy), Hisom, Bassett, Merritt, Dann, etc.
Sometimes known as “Smithfield and Ulster,” was located in both those townships. John Smith was an early minister in Ulster, but his birth and death are not known. There were Baptists, in Smithfield as early as 1801. Samuel Wood, Esq., from Halifax, Vt., on his arriving here at once labored for an organization. A meeting was held at Reuben Mitchell’s, Dec. 19, 1809, was adjourned to Joseph Smith’s, in Ulster, Jan. 11, 1810. Missionaries Todd and Hartwell providentially attended, and aided in recognizing a church of fifteen members, five of whom were from Smithfield, nine from Ulster, and one from Athens. Same day Hannah Holcomb and another woman were baptized. They joined Chemung association, in 1811, with 23 members. In 1834, they left Chemung and took the lead in forming Bradford association, 1835. The late Dr. Bullock wrote that about 1818 wheat here brought fifty cents a bushel and butter six cents a pound. It required $80 to bring a ton of goods from Newburg. Nails were 25 cents per pound; glass, $10 per box. Nearly every man was in debt for his land, and struggling to pay. But it was a season of great religious devotion, during which, among a comparatively sparse population, 86 were baptized in Smithfield, 87 in Columbia, and 34 were added to those churches by letter (1818 to 1820). Smithfield decided to build a house of worship, the frame of which they raised in June, and into which they welcomed the association in October 1819. It was a large house (after the style of one in Halifax, Vt.), requiring two years longer to finish,--never formally dedicated,-- and cost about $2000. It was a great sacrifice of toil and means, but it was a comfortable church home, and accommodated more than generation of worshipers, when it took fire from an adjoining building and burned down, Feb. 8, 1874. The corner stone of a new house was laid Sept. 8, same year, and the finished house was dedicated Feb. 5, 1875; less than a year’s time from the loss of the old one. The new building is of brick, and cost about $9000, secured in the vicinity. The brick were the offering of Deacon Willard A. Wood, son of Deacon Abraham Wood, who was one of the many sons of Deacon Samuel Wood. This is an instance of the great liberality, which from the outset has actuated this body of believers in favor of home and foreign labors to extend the gospel.
Their members reside in several townships.
They reported 14 baptized in 1812, 86 in 1819, 19 in 1828, 38 in 1838, 35 in 1844, 36 in 1847, 64 in 1850, 29 in 1864, and from 8 to 41 in every year since 1871; in all 537. It has had 800 different members.
The following have been pastors or supplies; B. Dryermo, in 1811 (of whom nothing further is known); Jonathan Stone, 1813 to 1817; Thomas B. Beebe, 1818 to 1823 (died in South Livonia, N.Y., 1840, in his fifty-eighth year); Levi Baldwin, 1824 to 1826; Silas E. Shepard and James Parsons, some time in 1826, 1827, 1828; John Doty, 1830 to 1836 (died here, 1867, aged sixty-seven); Joseph W. Parker, 1836 to 1839; W.H.H. Dwyer, 1839 to 1845, and again 1855 to 1861; Nathaniel Otis, 1846 (died at Beloit, 1856, aged eighty); Isaac B. Lake, 1847 ; James P. Cook ( late at Wheatland, Iowa), 1848 to 1850; William H. Spencer, 1850, 1851 (died in Lincoln, Del., 1871, aged sixty-five); Joel Hendrick (now in Havana, N.Y.), 1852 to 1855; James Parker (now in Barrington, N.Y.), 1861 to 1864; Elisha M. Alden (now at Linesville Station, Pa.), 1865 to 1870; William J. Erskine, 1870 (died in Brooklyn city, 1875, aged fifty-five); and peter S. Everett (East Smithfield P.O. ) since 1871,--eighteen pastors of whom at least eleven, probably twelve, have run their mortal race, averaging sixty-seven years of life.
Pastor Stone was here ordained, 1815; Pastor Beebe in 1818; and Pastor Doty in 1832—all licensed before they joined here.
Deacons—Samuel Wood (died 1828, aged sixty-seven), Asa Hackett (died 1847, aged seventy-five), Benjamin Hale (died 1851, aged eighty-one), Abraham Wood (died 1848, aged forty-seven), Jonathan Hall, 1st (died 1831, aged forty-five), Stephen Califf, 2nd (died 1874, aged eighty-six), Samuel Farwell (died 1866, aged seventy), Joel Allen (died 1874, aged eighty-seven), Jonathan Allen (died 1846, aged seventy-eight), Willard A. Wood, J. Colburn Allen, Daniel J. Allen, Israel Jones, Levi B. Scott, -fourteen, of whom the first nine averaging seventy years.
Clerks—Samuel Wood, David Titus (died 1812, aged thirty-eight), Lindley Josley, Oliver Hays Jr., 1814 to 1817; Ephraim Bennett Gerould (died 1845, aged fifty-six), Jabez Lawrence Gerould (died 1852, aged fifty-seven), Abraham Jones, Esq. (now over ninety years of age), Joel Allen, J. Colburn Allen, Willard A. Wood, Franklin Pierce, J. Dallas Pierce, (Milan P.O.),--thirteen, seven of whom it is supposed have died.
Members have been dismissed to form two churches,--Springfield, in 1820, with eighteen members, and Ulster & Athens (now Waverly), in 1824, with fifteen members. About 1831, forty out of one hundred members became the Disciples’ church of Smithfield.
The two Smiths, Wood, Curry (who removed to New York), Cromwell, Child, William Scott (died here 1834, aged eighty-six), and perhaps other members, were soldiers of the Revolution. Another, Captain Jabez Gerould (died 1802, aged Eighty-three), was a father of the large Gerould family. Were there room, it would be pleasure to allude at length to other worthy names, as Bullocks, Carneys, Niles, Thomas, Perkins, Hulbert, Phelps, etc., in connection with this church. Most of them were from Halifax, others from Coleraine, Rhode Island, etc. Deacon Farwell conducted the first Sabbath-school and Bible class, in 1838. He and his wife, also Deacon William Lewis, liberal in their lives, remembered the cause of Christ in their wills, and though dead, yet speak. In 1826, ’27, ’30, and ’52, there were no additions, and in 1819 and ’28, no diminutions, in this church. It has had baptisms in forty-seven out of sixty-eight years, and additions by letter in fifty-nine years. It reported dismissions in fifty-three years, exclusions in forty-one, and deaths in fifty-one. Average additions, twelve per year; diminutions, almost nine per year. It has been a zealous, working church, as shown by this summary if statistics:
Original number 15 Dismissed by letter 272
Added by baptism 537 Excluded 151
Added by letter 207 *Erased and dropped 16
*Added by experience 38 Deceased 121
Restored and discrepancy 27 Present number 264
* Most of these, until recently, were reported under the preceding heads.
No trace of the early Columbia church book has been found. It was formed, as supposed, in 1812, from eastern immigrants, and from some new converts under Elder Powers, of Alba. They had no house of worship, but met usually at “Columbia Flats,” now known as Sylvania. The original membership of twelve was increased to twenty-seven upon its reception by the Chemung association, October 1814. Simeon Powers was pastor until 1816; in 1817, Isaiah Butler was supply; 1819 to 1821, Benjamin Oviatt was pastor; 1822, ’23, Benjamin G. Avery was supply; 1824, no further returns of preaching in minutes, but various supplies were ordained.
There were 16 baptisms in 1813-14; 90 from 1819 to 1821; and 14 in five other years, 120 in all. The highest membership was 124 in 1820, when about half were dismissed to form Columbia & Wells church. In 1825, and again in 1826, the tide of emigration took away 15 members. In 1829, the church was reduced to 32, and so many of these were in sympathy with the “Campbellities” that the church was dropped, in 1831, upon the report of a visiting committee from the association.
Asa Howe, Sr., a soldier of the Revolution, and Isaac Baker, deacons, are the only officers whose names we find. Other messengers to the association were Cyprian Stevens, Oliver Stone, Levi Soper, Samuel Edsall, Asa Bullock, Nathan Alvord, Joseph Beaman (afterwards an Old School preacher, who died here about 1872, aged eighty five), David Griswold, Thomas Cory, Barney Webber, John Ludington, Philemon Baker, William Webber (a Revolutionary soldier), Asa Howe, Jr., etc.
The field of labor originally extended beyond Columbia township, but was contracted as new churches arose. Associational records of fifteen out of eighteen years’ existence show an aggregate of 170 members, and an average of 8 baptisms per year, but about as many were dismissed to other bodies.
Columbia & Wells Church,
Situated in the north part of Columbia and the south part of Wells township, was recognized by a council at the house of James Seeley in 1821. It comprised 52 members dismissed from Columbia church. It joined Chemung association in 1821, and Bradford in 1835.
There were 23 added by baptism in 1832,25 in 1838, etc. The Old School division of 1834-35 left the church much broken, each side claiming the majority. In 1840, the missionary portion dismissed 45 members, mostly to form the Jackson church on the west, and the South Creek church on the east, leaving but 28 members.
B. Oviatt was pastor in 1823, and J. Beaman in 1824; Jonathan Sturdivant and Peter Prink were resident ministers in 1836; and W.H.H. Dwyer pastor in 1838.
Deacons named. —David R. Haswell and David Griswold.
Clerks- D. R. Haswell, D. Griswold, Nathan Alvord, Jr., Henry Seeley, Jesse Edsall (died 1862, aged seventy-one), and Reuben A. Garrison.
From 1840 to 1846 is a blank. April 3, 1846, a council at the Havens school-house, in Columbia, fellowshipped about 20 believers as a church under their former name. To these were added, by baptism, 35 in 1854, 28 in 1859, 54 in 1870, 30 in 1875, - a total of 262 since its first organization,- and 431 different members.
Pastors or supplies from 1847-1877.—Thomas Mitchell, to 1852; W.H.H. Dwyer, six months; Samuel Grenell, 1854 (died in Tioga county, 1872, aged seventy- three); 1855, John Kitchell; 1857, Lawrence Lowe and Comfort Beebe; 1859, David P. Maryott, three months; 1860, Benjamin Oviatt and T. Mitchell; 1863, Edwin S. Browe (now in New Jersey); 1867, James Parker; 1872, Roswell Corbit (now in East Lansing, N.Y.)); 1876, Lewis C. Davis (Austinville P.O.), here ordained.
Deacons.-Jesse Edsall, Royal Havens, A.C. Noble, U. Ferguson, John Van Wert, and Raymond Gernert.
Clerks.- Royal Havens, John Van Wert, and George W. Noble (Wells P.O.).
In 1853 a house of worship was erected in Columbia, near the town line. In 1864 a parsonage, with ten acres of land, was secured in Columbia; and Nov. 18, 1874, a second house of worship was opened, in Austinville (the old “Cabot Hollow”). Not counting the dormant period between 1840 and 1846, this church has had half a century of Christian travel, with its full share of joys and sorrows. The two churches—Columbia, and Columbia-Wells—have, since 1812 (omitting years unreported), returned 382 baptisms, 160 added by letter, and 12 constituents,-- altogether, 554 different persons, members. Adding those of the Old School church, would make 600 persons connected with the Baptists in the sixty-five years past. But 278 were dismissed by letter, 101 excluded and erased, and 38 died, as reported in the two mission bodies,--losses accounted for, 417.
Early missionaries speak of visiting here. In 1810, “Ontario” county, now Bradford, was established. While it was still known as Ontario (Deacon James Elliott relates), Elder Hartwell preached in Myers’ tavern, at Myersburg, and baptized, in Wysox creek, himself, Deacon Joel Barnes, Sr., and the wife of Amos Mix, a Revolutionary soldier—the first known recipients of the ordinance in “Ontario,” or Bradford County under that name. He remembers Naphatali Woodburn and wife, their son Whitman, Moses Woodburn and wife, Elisha Tracy and wife, and Jacob Dutcher, among the early Baptist of that region. In view of another visit from missionating brethren, a council was called 1812. Young brother Elliott threaded the forests and by-paths to the “clearings” of Deacon Wood and Hackett, in Smithfield, and thence across to Deacon Crofut’s, on Towanda creek, to invite them to the council at N. Woodburn’s. Elder D. Dimock attended, and a church was recognized. As the original church book and the papers of Elder West have not been discovered (if in existence), we cannot particularize. Thomas B. Beebe, a saddler, became a deacon and a licentiate, and took the lead until the arrival of Hezekiah West, of South Hill, Orwell. Mr. West being ordained had general charge, from about 1814, for thirty years, until his death. He baptized in Sheshequin and several other townships. Wysox church had Susquehanna association on the east and Chemung on the west. But those bodies did not correspond with each other, and Wysox remained a long time isolated. In 1820 it joined Chemung with 40 members. The name had been “Wysox,” and also “Orwell,” but was then “Orwell & Ulster,” changed to “Orwell & Sheshequin” upon the east side of old Ulster being erected into the township of Sheshequin. There were 14 baptisms in 1821, 13 in 1830,- in all, 32 in the fifteen years were reported. In 1830, had 57 members. The church sided with the Old School in 1835, and in a 1841 reported 30 members. The death of Elder West, four years afterwards, perhaps was the end of the church, some of the members going into Rome or other mission churches, and others into the Asylum church. There were probably 75 baptisms, and 150 members in all, during the thirty-five or forty years’ existence of the church. We have no knowledge of any ordained minister, member, excepting Mr. West. Jacob Wickizer was a deacon, and Joel Barnes, Sr., deacon and clerk. Other messengers to the association—some of whom sided with the missionary churches—were named Eastabrook, Wickizer, Brown, Warfield, Cranmer, Durand, Wedge, Playfoot, etc.
June 18, 1857, thirty-nine members of Herrick & Wysox church, mostly living in the north part of Wysox, were recognized as Wysox church. They worshipped usually in the large school-house on the State road, and in 1866, had a branch church at the Park school-house in Orwell. They reported 22 baptisms in 1859, 17 in 1864, 16 in 1866,--in all 58 added by baptisms and a total of 113 different members. But, in 1874, 57 non-residents and backsliders were “dropped,” and in 1875 Bridgewater association “dropped” Wysox church, last reporting 12 members. They had been supplied with preaching by Elder Wm. Lathrop (died in Herrick, 1868, aged seventy), H.H. Gray, J. LaGrange, S.G. Keim (died in Smithville, N.Y., 1872), D.E. Bowen, P.T. Maryott, and perhaps others.
Deacons.- Jonathan Wood (died 1862), Eseck Wood, Eastburn Wickizer, C.M. Tingley.
Clerks.- David C. Sherman, Myersburg.
Lying between Smithfield and Columbia, Springfield township shared in the great revival of 1818-19. In January 1820, a council at the house of Major John Parkhurst recognized eighteen, formerly of Smithfield church, as an independent body. They joined Chemung association, in 1821, with 21 members. They reorganized with 23 members, and joined the Bradford association in 1835. About 1845 they built a house of worship in Springfield Centre, which was improved in 1872 at a cost of $875.
The church reported 14 baptisms in 1838, 12 in 1843, 18 in 1851, 20 in 1855-56, 15 in 1860; and in all, during its fifty-seven years, 158, with 247 different persons, members. Elder Parsons, Clark, and others were early supplies. Peter Prink was pastor in 1833, and probably ordained in 1834. Elam Bennett, ordained in 1838, often supplied here and elsewhere. Next, Joseph W. Parker; W.H.H. Dwyer; E. Rich (2d); Thomas Mitchell, 1845 to 1860; Wm. Jones (ordained in Caton, N.Y., 1852, died here 1864); T. Mitchell, again, until 1872; Thomas B. Jayne; James F. Rush, now of Hughesville P.O., Pa.; and Chas. |T. Hallowell, of Troy, presents supply. Mr. Mitchell’s was one of the longest pastorates in the county.
Deacons-. Maj. Isaac Cooley (a pioneer, once member of State Legislature, died 1868, aged eighty-four), Elam Bennett, Caleb S. Burt, Wm. W. Spaulding, Bela K. Adams, and Ezekiel Burt. Clerks.- E. Bennett, Wm. Evans, Esq., I. Cooley, John Salisbury, Josiah Parkhurst, Harry S. Grover (died 1864), B.K. Adams, Robert Allen, and Frank Ripley. David Brown (moved into New York), Bela Kent (died 1834, aged eighty-eight), members, are reported among the early Revolutionary heroes, and also several of the early congregation.
“Chemung Baptist Missionary Society.”
This, formed in 1820 or 1821, was designed to spread “the gospel among the destitute in or near the bounds of the association.” Members contributed one dollar annually. Its constitution appeared in the minutes of 1821, when it stated that the society had already paid for seven months of missionary work, with satisfactory results. In 1826 the treasurer’s report appeared in the minutes, by which it seems that $115 had been received in the year then closed, which had been paid, part in money and part in property, to Elder Clark, Parsons, Baldwin, Rogers, West, Beaman, Sawyer, and Avery. The collectors named were John Knapp, Franklin; A. Hibbard, Troy; Elder Beaman, Columbia & Wells; James Gerould, Smithfield; William Evans, Springfield; I Baker, Columbia; Elder West, Orwell; John Lyman, Roulette. It seems the association was then almost wholly in Bradford, and those, afterwards the leaders in the Old School movement, were both willing contributors to, and recipients of, the treasury. From a very early day the association had, with resolutions and with money, distinctly approbated organized efforts to sustain both home and foreign missions.
Itinerants early visited what is now known as Terry and Wilmot townships. One, from Smithfield, described a revival in Asylum, 1821 or’22. About 1820, the Baptist met alternately at Terrytown. October 10, 1821, Asylum became a church, joining Chemung association, 1822, with 30 members,-- Benjamin Moody, messenger. Other members were of the Terry, La Porte, Horton, and Chamberlain families. No pastors were reported, and but little progress. In 1829 it had 22 members. No further report to the Chemung association. In 1838, Asylum was in the Old School association. It appears by some of the minutes to have been represented by pastors H. Rowland and C. Schoonover, with brethren Vaughn, Chamberlain, Terry, Ellsworth, Verbryke, Durand, and Porter. In 1869 it had 27 members and a meeting-house in Vaughn Hill, Wyalusing.
When a majority of the early Asylum church opposed missions, the minority took refuge with Braintrim. In 1856 they reorganized as Terrytown (where they have the joint use of a house of worship), and same year joined Wyoming association, with 28 members. In 1871 –72 there were 37 additions by baptism, and 29 in other years—69 in all—135 different members.
Pastors—Jacob Kennedy, in 1856; Wm. Lathrop, in 1863; John N. Lukens, in 1867; E. Burroughs, in 1870; D.E.. Bowen, in 1872; Benj. Jones, since 1873; and perhaps some supplies.
Deacons-Nathaniel Terry, S.C. Strong.
Clerks- John F. Dodge, Esq. (died 1871, aged fifty-seven), H.L. Terry.
Late in December 1809, or early in January, 1810, missionaries Todd and Hartwell visited the “Rhode Island settlements at the head of Waposena creek,” where they desired preaching. From 1816 to 1821, Elder Dimock, of Montrose, had baptized nine members of Choconut church in Apolacon creek, Susquehanna county, east of Warren township. July 17, 1821, a council recognized a church, which had been formed, comprising members from Tioga, N.Y., and from Choconut. They joined Chemung association in the fall, with 21 members; Livingston Jenks* and Nathan Brown, messengers. In 1823 they had John Sawyer, pastor, and, in 1830, Jirah Bryan (afterwards ordained, who died in Choconut, 1844, aged sixty-four). Other messengers were Walter Brown, Whitman Woodburn, Rensselaer Jenks. At one time it had 28 members. In 1836 it joined the Old School party, with 22 members, and had the same in 1841 (our last return). Other messengers were named James, Fessenden, and Corbin. It probably did not long survive its neighboring supplies,-- Bryan and West. I have not been able to find its records.
? Deacon Foster Taylor, formerly of Tioga, N.Y., late of Williamsport, said this brother “was not exactly a minister, but was a very big deacon). About 1820, some of his opponents sought to oust him from his office as magistrate, applying to the Legislators for that purpose, but failed,-- the stout old deacon was apparently too much for them all.
In November, 1841, D. Folk, and wife, A. Tyrrell and wife, and A. Bowen and wife became a branch of the church at Nichols, N.Y. April 17, 1844, they were recognized a church of the missionary order, which joined Broome & Tioga association, same year, with 31 members. A. Corbin, T Corbin, and T. Cornell were the messengers. In 1849, there were 32 baptisms reported; 12 in 1856, 17 1859, 14 in 1866, 20 in 1867, 20 in 1869, 11 in 1875-76,- in all, 173 baptisms and 307 different members during one-third of a century. Erected meeting-house in 1853, at a cost of $1100.
Charles A. Fox was first supply; James Ingalls in 1846; A. Gibson in 1848; James D. Webster (now in Mount Vision, N.Y.), 1849 to 1854; Joseph R. Morris (now in Nicowza, Ind.) in 1855; Henry W. Barnes, 1856 (now in Ogdensburg, N.Y., ordained 1857) to 1861; Daniel E. Bowen (now in Jackson, Pa.), 1862; Wm. F. Nixon (now in Elmira, N.Y., ordained 1865), to 1868; Dr. G.W. Stone and H.F. Cochrane, 1869 to 1871); Edwin S. Lear in 1872-73; and Harvey H. Gray (Rush P.O., Susq. Co.) since 1874. Joined Bridgewater associations in 1875. Deacons named. - A.D. Corbin, Daniel Folk. Clerks.- D. Folk, James Joyce (Warren Centre).
Ulster, Athens & Ulster, Athens & Chemung, Factoryville
(now Waverly) Church.
June 24, 1824, a number of Baptists near the mouth of Tioga river, principally members of Smithfield church, met in Upper Ulster, at Joseph Smith’s, and were organized as a church. They numbered 16. August 16, 1825, a council convened at Milltown school-house in Athens township, when Dr. Ozias Spring and Widow Ann Everts, from Tioga, N.Y., Aaron Jackson, blacksmith, from Brookfield, Orange Co., N.Y., and James Olmstead, lately baptized, joined the Ulster band, and took the name of the “Ulster & Athens” church. Joseph Smith and Aaron Jackson were chosen deacons, and Dr. Spring, clerk. Deacon Jackson was afterwards licensed; ordained in 1833; and was long time a minister, dying at Oyster Bay, L.I., 1868. Dr. Spring was licensed in Tioga, N.Y., early as 1820; ordained in 1827; did not preach long, but continued the practice of his profession, and died at Milltown, 1866, aged seventy-six.
This church held meetings in two States, three counties, and several townships, many miles from each other. In 1832, its name became “ Athens & Chemung.” In 1833, it left Chemung for Seneca association, changed its name to “Factoryville” in 1836. Up to this time it had received 35 by baptisms and 15 by letter. In all, had 70 different members. On making its central point out of the State, it is supposed some members ceased their travel, as it was far from home, and some may have returned to Smithfield. In 1827, R.A. Gillett was clerk, and Alexander Brooks in 1831; the latter became a deacon in 1835, and died in Waverly, in 1876, aged eighty years. Phineas Rogers, E. Drake, J. Elston, P. Daily, and Thomas Morgan were early messengers. Early pastors and supplies were Thomas B. Beebe, O. Spring, James Clark, Thomas Thayer, John Sawyer, Aaron Jackson, John Brown (died, Wellsburg, 1835, aged fifty-six.
About 1844, Factoryville built the brick meeting-house, west of the village, now used by the Old School brethren. It united in forming Chemung River association, 1843. Changed name again to “Waverly,” and built its framed meeting-house, about 1864. Some 500 have been baptized into the fellowship of the church, which has had 800 different members. It now numbers 250, some of whom are in Pennsylvania. H. Hallett is clerk; but we do not attempt a full sketch of any church beyond the boundary of the county.
First Windham Church
Joined Chemung association, 1829, with 16 members; Daniel Doane, messenger. Another early settler here was David Short, from Rhode Island, afterwards ordained, who preached on Cowanesque creek, and at Addison, N.Y., some years. Doane and Short belonged for a time with Tioga church, New York. No knowledge of its officers, nor of the church after 1830.
In 1835 this “newly-formed” church joined Berkshire (now Broome & Tioga) association, with 15 members, Pardon Kinyon and Wm. L. Hartsboro, messengers. Subsequent messengers were Simon Cook, D. Gardner, Samuel R. Jakways, S. Kinyon, C. Ingalls. They received 15 by baptism and 46 by letter and experience,- 76 members in all. Preaching from Jacob Leach, Wm. Wright, T. Hendryx, and James Ingalls. The names of deacons are not known. Pardon Kinyon and M. Wood served as clerks.
In 1845, the association made this minute: “Whereas, the brethren of West Windham have, in conformity to a custom somewhat common, passed an act of dissolution, to avoid discipline, without Scriptural authority (from such a cause) of no longer regarding, them as a church of “Jesus Christ.”
In 1846, Rome had a branch church in Windham, some of whom, with others newly baptized, because the
Third Windham Church.
Feb.11, 1855, 15 members renewed covenant and in June joined Broome & Tioga association, with 18 members. There were 31 added by baptism (27 of them in 1856), 12 by experience, and 16 by letter,- in all, 74 different members. They had preaching from A. Wade, Jr., (died in New York), J. LaGrange, Geo. W. Stone, and E.S. Browe. P. Kinyon (died 1856), S.R. Jakways (died, 1870), and Wm. Osborn served as deacons. G.W. Jakways (died in the army, 1862), Samuel Hartsboro (died 1868), were clerks. Last record in church book, Dec. 19, 1863.
These three organizations had more or less prosperity, but lacked harmony, there being Old School sympathizers and Free Will Baptist on the same field. During some twenty years’ labor, they had 46 baptized, and about 130 different members, yet seem to have wanted “the gift of continuance.”
Divisions in Western Bradford.
From 1826 some variance has arisen respecting written creeds, the work of the Spirit, the power in the act of baptism, etc. Dr. Silas E. Shepard, who came as a regular Baptist minister from Northumberland association, led the “current reformation,” as then called, or “ Reformers,” since known as “Disciples.” Their organ was the Millenial Harbinger, by Alexander Campbell, of Bethany, West Virginia. After long continued agitations, the Chemung association, in 1830, drew the lines by warning the churches against Mr. Shepard as propagating “sentiments subversive of the principles, of our denomination.” The new order began distinct organizations, composed almost wholly of Baptists, and soon absorbed old Columbia church, had a majority in the Canton, and reduced the Smithfield, Springfield, Troy, Franklin, and perhaps other churches. Since the separation each denomination has moved along more harmoniously than when members were in jarring factions in the churches.
About eighty-four years ago, Thomas Smiley, then living on or near the river, preached “up the creek,” and saw some good results. In 1833, Smith Bixby and other members of Middletown church, Susquehanna county, had special meetings in Herrick and Wyalusing. Feb. 20, 1834, a church, comprising eighteen members,--half of them newly baptized,-- was constituted, and Brother Bixby was ordained. He began pastoral labors at Damascus in 1836, but, while on a visit to Mehoopany, died, 1837, aged twenty-nine years. The church joined Bridgewater association, 1834, with 29 members. It has reported 18 baptized in 1834; 10, in 1839; 21, in 1843; 16 in 1854; and others, making a total of 114. It has had 161 members in forty-four years of travel, with some years unreported. Levi Baldwin succeeded Smith Bixby as pastor, serving about ten years in three terms and died here. Next, Isaac B. Lake; Ira J. Sturdevant, 1849-52; William Lathrop, Jr., several years, in three terms; Jos. W. Parker, 1857-59; J. LaGrange; E. Burroughs, 1868-74; Elias S. Lear (Camptown), since 1874. Prentis Frink, H.H. Gray, D.E. Bowen (resident member), and perhaps others, have supplied the pulpit at times.
Deacons- John Stevens, Harry Wells, James Lee, (died 1857), Asa Bixby (died 1845), Isaac Middaugh, Abel W. Wells, Philander S. Brewster, Charles A. Squires, David A. Nesbit.
Clerks- Isaac L. Camp, J. Stevens, J. Lee, A.W. Wells, P.S. Brewster, Pemberton S. Squires, E.B.Barnes, L.S. Squires, Camptown P.O.
In 1836, members of Wyalusing church helped form Rome, and in 1843 contributed to what is now Herrickville. P.S. Brewster was ordained at Ballibay school-house, in Herrick, 1872, and now preaches in Liberty, Susquehanna county. In January 1873, the meeting-house at Camptown was dedicated, having cost $3600.
Another Division—Old School.
The Campbellite contest had not fairly subsided when another arose, chiefly in eastern Bradford. Some of the Baptists (as thought by their opponents) began to push the Bible doctrines of election and perseverance into fatalism and antinomianism, and, under the influence of Gilbert Beebe’s Signs of the Times, opposed Bible and missionary societies, Sunday-schools, and, in some cases, total abstinence temperance measures. Most of the early churches of Chemung association had united with other similar bodies, and the remaining missionary members, disliking to continue internal controversy, thought it as well to abandon the Chemung name to the Anti-Mission or “Old School” party. At the annual meeting, held with Sullivan Church, in Charleston, Tioga County, Sept. 10, 1835, there were but five of the nine churches represented, and one of those (Troy) asked dismission. The remaining four withdrew correspondence from all associations “which are supporting the popular institution of the day,” uniting themselves with the world in what are falsely called benevolent societies founded upon a moneyed base.” These four churches were Orwell & Sheshequin, Columbia & Wells, in this county, with 120 members and Sullivan in Tioga, and Warren in Lycoming. The four had 246 members. There were afterwards added Warren, Asylum, and Highlands (between Towanda and Burlington) in Bradford, Shamokin in Northumberland, and a few elsewhere. In their last minutes I have found (1869) they reported Asylum, Columbia & Wells in this county, with 61 members, and four churches elsewhere with 102 members: in all, 163 members in the Old School Chemung association.
The New York Baptist Register, by Alexander M. Beebee, Utica, was then medium of communication between missionary Baptist. In view of the final action of the remnant of the Chemung association, friends of benevolence formed a “conference” at Smithfield, in 1834. In October 1835, the month following the Old School declaration, the conference met at Smithfield, and the Bradford Baptist association was formed. Its original churches were Smithfield, Springfield, Columbia & Wells, Troy, and Canton,-- five bodies, with 285 members. It has since comprised all the regular Baptist of the county, except some in the north and east who have joined other bodies of similar faith, locally more advantageous. In 1842-43, Tioga association on the west, and Chemung River on the north, were formed taking seven churches from Bradford. Yet it has continued to labor in faith and love, and now reports fourteen churches, with 1044 members in this county, while nine churches with 527 members in Bradford County are connected with four other associations.
By the Old School triumph of 1835, missionary Baptists in central-eastern Bradford were homeless. But Jan. 14, 1836, thirteen members, mostly in and near Rome, were recognized as Rome Baptist church. They have never enjoyed large revivals, yet 61 have been added by baptism, 49 by letter, and 43 by experience,-- 166 different members, subject to constant diminutions, leaving them small in numbers. Thomas Mitchell, Jr., was ordained here, 1841. In 1845 they had completed a house of worship. Pastors, or supplies” Truman Hendry, T. Mitchell, Wm. Lathrop, Jr., Geo. W. Stone, James P. Cook, Dr. Stone again. S. G. Keim, E. Burroughs, H. F. Cochrane, D.E. Bowen, P. T. Maryott,--mostly serving short terms. In 1856, student Barrows, and in 1870, student Perkins, from Lewisburg, labored in vacations here, and James Rainey held meetings in 1876-77. Deacons-Joel Barnes, 1st (died 1847), Stephen Cranmer (died down the river, 1845, aged fifty-three), Sylvester Barnes (died 1876, aged eighty-six), Joel Barnes, 2d, Oscar Elliot, Bela K. Adams. Clerks—Joel Barnes, E. Smith, Davis B. Barnes. [Ends page 137]