The Baptists were the first to erect the standard of the Christian religion in Centreville, though we have no evidence that they ever organized a church in the town. The first meeting was conducted by John Griffin. The Methodists held meetings at a comparatively early date in Centreville, as elsewhere in the county. Many of the new corners after settlement began were Congregationalists and Presbyterians. The first church organized in the town was the latter faith.
For the early history of this church we are indebted to Hotchkin's History of Western New York, and for that portion of it which follows to data furnished by Rev. John W. Lane, a former pastor. The First Presbyterian Church of Centreville, consisting of fourteen members, says Hotchkin, was organized by Rev. Silas Hubbard, July 25th, 1824, and was received under the care of the Presbytery of Genesee August 31st, 1824, and transmitted to the Presbytery of Angelica February 24th, 1829. In 1825 it consisted of fifteen members; in 1831, of thirty; in 1843, of one hundred and nine; and in 1846, of seventy-eight. As stated supplies, at different periods, have officiated Rev. Messrs.
In support of all these ministers the church has received aid from the American Home Missionary Society. One or two seasons of revival, but not very extensive, have been enjoyed. This church has an appropriate house of worship and a parsonage.
Rev. Lyman B. Waldo served as a stated supply for about two years and retired on account of failing health. His immediate successor was Rev. John W. Lane, who began his ministry in October, 1853, and remained more than fourteen years, deducting an absence of two years during the war. The membership at the time he assumed the duties of the pastorate was about thirty, the following named persons constituting the society:
The second year of Mr. Lane's pastorate was signalized by a revival which has been referred to as as remarkable as it was encouraging. Among those who united with the church as the result of this movement were several prominent citizens and a number of the younger people of the community. Of this number may be mentioned
Mr. M. D. Higgins, Mrs. Laura Higgins, Samuel Crowell, Dr. Stacy and others, who did not identify themselves with the society, gave efficient aid and exerted their influence to advance the interests of the church.
The early years of Mr. Lane's ministry at Centreville were years of intense application to his labors. He preached three sermons a Sunday, and did other pastoral work with a similar zeal. He was a positive thinker, vigorous in argument and fervent and effective in his manner of delivery. His influence was such that the church rapidly and steadily increased in membership, until at the end of five years the old church was found to be too small to accommodate the society.
In 1858 a new lot was purchased, which was conveniently located but required expensive grading and necessitated the laying of a costly foundation of dressed stone. The total expense of lot, grading, foundation, and a substantial wooden church 38 by 56 feet square, with a pillared portico, hall, front gallery and steeple, is computed to have been about $3,000, which was made up by gifts from members of the society, with the exception of $500, donated by the Presbyterian Board of Erection; Mr. P. B. Woodward subscribing $500; Rev. Mr. Lane and others $100 each, and other smaller amounts to make up the aggregate. The house was completed in the fall of 1859 and dedicated. Rev. Daniel Russel, of Pyke, Wyoming county, preaching the dedicatory sermon.
There were vacancies in the official board at that time, to fill which Barnes Blanchard, Ezra M. Hopkins and Albert S. Barnum were ordained to be elders. Daniel Veazey was clerk of the session.
As the result of removals and deaths, and the subsequent disastrous effects of the late civil war, rather than from a diminution of interest, the church began to decline about 1858, and continued to decrease in membership for some years. The number of members in 1860 was fifty, in 1865, thirty two; in 1866, thirty; in 1868, thirty-four. In the spring of the latter year Rev. Mr. Lane was called to the pastorate of the Presbyterian church of Rushford, and the Centreville church was since been irregularly supplied by the theological students, among whom were Rev. Oscar J. Hardin and Rev. John Sylvanus. Rev. Franklin A. Spencer was supplying the church in the fall of 1878, in connection with the Rushford charge.
The Methodist church of Centreville was organized in June, 1842, with thirteen constituent members. The first pastor was Rev. Charles D. Burlingame.
Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Williams, Levi L. Wheat, Rev. Salmon Wheat, Mr. and Mrs. William Lamberson, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hatch and others were early identified with the church. The house of worship, which will seat one hundred and seventy-five persons, was erected in 1844 at a cost of $1,000. This amount is about one-half the present value of the church property.
The pastor now (1879) in charge is Rev. I. K. Underbill.
The Congregational church of Fairview was organized by Rev. David Jenkins.
This church has erected two houses of worship. the first was built in 1851. The present one was erected in 1865. It cost nine hundred dollars, and will seat about one hundred persons.
The membership is about thirty, part of whom are residents of Rushford and adjacent neighborhoods in Cattaraugus county.