History of First Presbyterian
Excerpt from Smith's History of Broome County
First Presbyterian Church.--Some years previous to the organization of this church there had been periodical preaching in Binghamton by Rev. Mr. Palmer, a Dutch Reformed minister, who also officiated alternately at Union. Services were held in the court-house after about 1810. It does not appear, however, that Mr. Palmer's labors resulted in the formation of any society or church of his denomination. Rev. Mr. May, a Presbyterian minister, preached also in the village, and was followed about 1816 by an unordained preacher by the name of Niles. It was in an extensive revival awakened by the latter that the impulse and the members were furnished out of which sprang the organization of the First Presbyterian Church. The ministers who officiated at the organization were Rev. Ebenezer Kingsbury, of Hartford, Pa., and Rev. Joseph Wood, of Windsor, N. Y. The church was at first constituted of twenty members -- three males, viz.; Jesse Hinds, sen., Jonathan Ogden, and John McKinney; and seventeen females, fifteen of whom were: Mrs. Whiting, Mrs. Pratt, Mrs. Morse, Mrs. Woodruff (wife of Esquire Woodruff), Mrs. Sedgwick, Mrs. Weed, Mrs. Whitmore, Mrs. Hinds, Mrs. Ely (wife of Colonel Ely), Mrs. Smith, Miss Hannah Whitney, wife of Deacon Stow, Mrs. Ogden, Mrs. Vandewater, and Mrs. Edwards.
The officers of the church were two deacons -- Samuel Stow and John McKinney. Deacon Stow had moved into the place subsequent to the formation of the church.
Mr. Niles was ordained and installed pastor in 1818. In the same year the first Sunday-school was instituted by the female members of this church. In 1820 the form of government of the church was changed from Congregational to Presbyterian, which latter form it has retained ever since. This form requiring ruling elders, the first chosen were Deacon Samuel Stow, Deacon West and Deacon John McKinney.
The first house of worship was erected in 1819 on the site of the present church. The succession of pastors installed over the church has been as follows: Rev. Benjamin Niles, installed 1818; died in office July 18th, 1828. Rev. Peter Lockwood, installed November, 1827; dismissed April, 1833. Rev. Lewis D. Howell, installed August, 1833; dismissed September, 1834. Rev. John A. Nash, installed February, 1836; dismissed April, 1838. Rev. David D. Gregory, installed September, 1839; dismissed January, 1848. Rev. John Humphrey, installed October, 1848; dismissed April, 1854. Rev. William Goodrich, installed December, 1854; dismissed June, 1858. Rev. George N. Boardman, installed November, 1859; dismissed April, 1871. Rev. John P. Gulliver, installed February 4th, 1879. Rev. G. Parsons Nichols, installed December, 1882; present pastor.
At the annual meeting of the society early in January, 1860, it was voted to erect a new house of worship, and the old house was moved from its original position to give place to the new one in the following March. The new edifice was built of brick in the Romanesque style, and had an audience room ninety feet in length, not including the recess for the pulpit, by sixty-five feet in width. It was designed to accommodate about twelve hundred persons. The entire length of the building was one hundred and thirty feet, the width including the towers of the front angles, a little more than eighty feet; the height of the spire something more than two hundred and thirty-two feet. The edifice was completed early in 1862, and Sunday, March 30th, was the day appointed for its dedication, but on the night of the 16th fire broke out in the old church, which had been moved to the rear of the lot in close proximity to the new building. Such was its rapid progress that before the engines could reach the spot the fire had communicated to the new church and it was soon wrapped in the devouring flames.
Without delay measures were taken for restoring the house nearly in accordance with the original plan. The walls were standing uninjured, no water having been thrown upon them in their heated condition. "The children began to act even while the men were pondering the course to be pursued. They brought forward their offerings, such money as they had or could earn, and finally bought the bell which bears an inscription giving them the credit due to their devotion and generosity."1
Fireman's Hall was generously put to the disposal of the congregation while the new church was building, and was occupied until the edifice was ready and dedicated, on March 26th, 1863. The pastor, Rev. George N. Boardman, preached the dedicatory sermon in the morning; Rev. D. D. Gregory, fifth pastor of the church, preached in the afternoon; and Rev. Dr. Condit, of Auburn Theological Seminary, in the evening.
Probably no event in the history of the church has tended to give it such prestige abroad as the energy displayed in replacing the edifice which had been destroyed by fire.
Five churches have been formed from the First Presbyterian Church, viz.: The Presbyterian Church of Castle Creek, organized in 1833; the Congregational Church of Binghamton, organized in 1836; the North Presbyterian Church of Binghamton, organized in 1870; and the West Presbyterian Church of Binghamton, organized in 1871.
Following is a list of the elders of this church from the first election: Samuel Stow, Josiah West, Zalmon Green, 1822; Silas West, Peter Rood, 1826; Joseph M. Smith, Oliver Ely, Orville Stevens, Cary Murdock, Hamilton Collier, Arunah Hall, Henry Lilly, Orsemus Lilly, 1832; Elias Hawley, 1836; John F. Doubleday, Duncan McArthur, Alva Wheeler, 1842; Nathan Tucker, Stephen B. Fairchild, Uriah M. Stepehens, 1849; Thaddeus Mather, M.D., 1850; John D. McKinney, 1856; A. M. Hull, 1859; George S. Beach, 1863; Stephen D. Hand, M.D., 1864; Daniel Munson, Seth H. Terry, William H. Pratt, 1868. Present elders: Richard Mather, 1859; Joseph E. Ely, 1870; Alfred N. Brown, E. K. Clark, 1871; E. Van Tuyl, W. N. Wilson, B. Greg, 1876; S. Millsely, 1882; Franklin Edgerton, 1883; David H. Carver, 1884.
1Appendix to Annals of Binghamton, 249.
Source: Smith, H.P. History of Broome County, New York. D. Mason & Co. Publishers, Syracuse, NY 1885