Atwell's 1928 Cazenovia, Past & Present
A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village
Chapter V      Religion
pages 41 to 47
Daniel H. Weiskotten
11/14/1999
 
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Atwell, Christine O., 1928, Cazenovia, Past & Present, A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village. Florida Press, Inc., Orlando, FL
 
Some spelling corrections have been made and a few notes to update or clarify the text are added in square [  ] parentheses.  Atwell's Footnotes and my Comments and Notes follow at the end of the text.

            I Founding & Settlement
            II Roadways
            III Waterways
            IV Industries and Institutions
            V Religion
            VI Education
            VII Culture
 

Chapter V      Religion

pages 41 to 47

        <:41> The itinerant preacher followed hard after the pioneer.  From the east, through the Mohawk Valley, and from the south, along the Susquehanna and its tributaries, they entered and traversed the territory.  Over the obscure and difficult forest paths, across the unbridged streams, around the impracticable morass, through the summer rains and the winter snows, with a pittance for a salary, and often with scanty food and clothing, they sought the scattered homes of the frontier "to gather the outcasts and to seek the lost."  What this fair region of central and western New York owes to the labor and sacrifices of that heroic band no mortal can estimate.  The computation must include more than appears in the Societies and Churches which they founded.  Their influence has penetrated all society, their fruits are found in all the churches.
        Those who settled this region of country were a religious people, who brought with them a love of religious institutions and the religious observances to which they had been accustomed in theft Holland and New England homes, hence, soon after the azure blue of heaven's high dome became visible through the first clearings in the dense forest wilderness which surrounded their rude habitations, devout thanksgivings ascended to the power which had preserved them from past dangers and a continuance of that merciful protection fervently invoked in public gatherings of their numbers; and within six years from the time the first habitation was planted in these wilds as the herald of an onoming civilization, we find them an organized band for the more effective prosecution of their religious plans and purposes.
        The first church was the Presbyterian.  When it was built it was the first church west of Albany (Comment).  It is recorded that at a meeting held at the schoolhouse near the lake, in November, 1798, six men were elected to be "The Trustees of the First Presbyterian congregation of the town of Cazenovia."  There was then neither minister, elder nor deacon.  At the first meeting of the trustees, it was resolved to circulate a subscription paper for the support of preaching, the subscriptions to which were to be paid either in cash or produce at John Lincklaen's mill near the lake.  Two hundred and ninety-three dollars was subscribed.  Rev. Joshua Leonard was invited "to tarry with us awhile and preach."  It was agreed to allow him "$6 per Sabbath and pay all his expenses of board and horse-keeping provided he does not settle with us."  Up to April, 1799, preaching was held at different places, the place of meeting being designated by the congregation <:42>, and the inconvenience attending that practice made it desirable to settle a pastor and establish meetings regularly at one place.  Accordingly it was decided to circulate another subscription paper for the purpose of supporting a settled minister to preach regularly every Sabbath at the schoolhouse.
        In May, 1799, a church of the Presbyterian order, composed of eight members, was organized under the ministrations of Rev. Leonard, known as "Priest Leonard," who was engaged as pastor at a salary of $300 per year.  At the close of the installation exercises the congregation elected trustees and instructed them to make a pulpit and seats in the schoolhouse which stood just across the outlet bridge where the street runs toward the West Shore railroad station (Comment).  Here they worshiped until they built a church edifice which was dedicated on February 14, 1806.
        The cost of the building is not known, but the pews were sold at public auction for more than $5,000.  Some persons bought two or three or more.  They paid large sums considering their means and were willing to submit to inconveniences that they might establish the worship of God.  Col. Lincklaen purchased three dozen of Psalm books; Mrs. Lincklaen furnished the ornaments for the pulpit; Mrs. Forman gave a Bible and hymn book for the pulpit, at a cost of nearly $30 (Footnote V-1).  The town was then thinly settled; the people mostly lived in log houses situated in the woods, and generally had not paid for their land.  Yet within less than seven years from the organization of the church, it had expended $8,000 for religious purposes.  Communion was denied those who refused to contribute a just and equal part and proportion toward defraying the common expenses of the church.
        The first church building, erected on the site of the present Emory estate on the Green [now the lawn in front of the Middle School], was a very cold place in the winter.  It was not the practice then to have fire in the church except in the little foot stoves which the ladies used to take with them, but they introduced an improvement by putting two stoves under the gallery, near the door, with pipes running to a large sheet iron drum in the center of the church, elevated considerably above the heads of the congregation and a pipe leading from the drum to the outside of the church.  It did not add very much to the good appearance of the church, but it was much more comfortable.  There was a gallery all around and a sounding board over the high pulpit.  It seemed to be the fashion then to get the minister as far from the people as possible.  There was a liberal sprinkling of the sturdy Scotch element among the Presbyterians.  The church kept a watchful eye on its members.  Here one came and confessed to too free use of wine and another to taking <:43> illegal interest; others were labored with and brought before the church, one for talking business on Sunday, another for dishonest deal, and a sister for gossiping.  Several lay members were tried for heresy; letters were refused to members going to other denominations, they being labeled on the records "Covenant breaker," "Gone to the Baptists" or "Gone to the Methodists."  The Society adopted as a seal the device of a pigeon bearing an olive branch.
        A parsonage was built in 1816 [still standing at 22 Forman Street] at a cost of about $1,000.  Finding the location of the church inconvenient, the building was removed, down Hurd Street, to its present site in the summer of 1828.  The bell was securely tied in the belfry to keep it quiet during the moving process.  The building was thoroughly repaired and altered to suit the time and occupied without material change until 1834, when improvements were made costing nearly $800.  The session house, or chapel, connected with the church, was built in 1854.  Alterations were made in the Spring of 1868 costing $9,000, the furnishings about $3,000 more.  The galleries on three sides were removed, leaving but the one for the organ and singers.  A new clock, with the words "Redeeming The Time" on its face, was installed [inside the church] as the gift of Dr. Rogers of Brooklyn (Comment).  Rededication services were in December, 1869.  The organ, costing $2,250, was installed in 1870 as the gift of Mr. and Mrs. B.R. Wendell.  A new parsonage costing about $5,000 was erected in 1870 [still standing as the Church Parsonage at 33 Albany Street].  As a memorial to Mr. Burr Wendell, his wife and daughter had the interior of the church newly decorated in 1914.
        The Baptists organized almost simultaneously with the Presbyterians.  Among the Baptists who settled near the site of New Woodstock, were a number of active, zealous young men from Woodstock, Conn.  In 1800 Elder James Bacon came on from Torrington, Mass., and through his efforts a church was organized the following year.  On the 18th day of March, 1801, a little band of ten met, but six others were baptized that spring and the sixteen were fellowshipped June 17, 1801.  A small log meeting house was built by this society in 1802 which was occupied until a few years later when the church united with the Presbyterians in building a frame edifice.  This was soon outgrown and in 1815 the present building was erected. (In New Woodstock).
        The Baptist Church in Cazenovia village was formed as a result of meetings held in 1803 in the school house two miles south of the village ("Perkins' District") [at the southwest corner of Rippleton and Cobb Hill Roads] and conducted by Elder Bacon.  Other elders conducted the meetings there until 1813 when they were held in the court house in the village until 1817.  In that year the foundations of a meeting house were laid and in the following year it was in condition for occupancy.  On September 6, 1820, thirty-six male and fifty-five female members were dismissed from the Baptist church of New Woodstock and a separate organization <:44> was effected in Cazenovia.  The Sunday school was opened in 1823.  In 1835 the church was repaired and improved and again in 1868.  It was rededicated on January 14, 1869.  The church edifice was burned to the ground in 1871, but regular appointments were maintained in an adjoining hall.  The society rebuilt with brick [designed by Archimedes Russell of Syracuse] at a cost of $15,200 and in June, 1880, reported the new edifice paid for and dedicated.  The organ was installed in 1872.  The kitchen was added about 1908.  In 1916 the interior of the church was newly decorated; a hardwood floor was laid in the lecture room and a new carpet laid in the auditorium.  During the summer of 1927, a hardwood floor was laid in the auditorium and the walls were re-decorated.  The ordinance of baptism was administered in the lake for many years.  Evening services in the early days were called at "early candlelighting."  At the time the meetings were transferred from the school house to the court house, the only Baptists living in the village were "two females, both poor, and having intemperate husbands."  The salary a hundred years ago was $350, in quarterly payments, one half in cash and the remainder in produce at cash prices, likewise the use of the parsonage.  The first Baptist Missionary Society in America was formed in Cazenovia (Comment).
        No records of the Methodist Church prior to its incorporation have been preserved, hence we are unable to definitely trace its history during the succeeding interval.  One writer states:
        "At the early date which marks the beginning of this history, Cazenovia and all the territory lying west in the state of New York was embraced in the bounds of the Genesee Conference.  Cazenovia was a weak point in Methodism, on a six weeks' circuit, having no church edifice within its limits save the old Court-house in Cazenovia village.  There were only five or six Methodist families in the place.  The courts had been removed to Morrisville, and the Court-house was for sale.  There was a sharp competition between the Baptist minister and the Methodists for the possession of the house.  It was to be sold on a given day, and each party intended to secure the prize.  However, the Methodists, having bid the highest sum, $1,810, and given a reliable bond for its payment, were put into immediate possession of the premises.  This was in 1818.  After a time, the trustees of the Cazenovia Methodist Society, who were personally responsible, found themselves embarrassed by the debt on the Court-house, so they petitioned the Conference for relief, with the result that it was taken over for the Seminary."
        Another writer states: "In 1816 the Cortland circuit was formed and Cazenovia was included in it.  The preacher formed a small class in the village, consisting mostly of young people, who were zealous and united.  One member was a man of some means; the remainder of the class were poor, a majority of them single persons.  The church was incorporated in <:45> 1830; a subscription was soon started to obtain funds with which to build a chapel, the subscriptions not to be binding unless $3,000 or more was subscribed.  As only a little less than $2,000 was pledged by nineteen individuals, the project was abandoned.  On January 25, 1832, it was resolved to raise a fund by selling the pews of a contemplated church to be built on the corner lot south of the Seminary, of brick or stone.  The sales of pews continued at a few intervals until January, 1833, at which time little more than $4,000 had been realized.  $3,000 additional were borrowed.  In the spring of that year work on the building was begun and it was finished during the year.  This building was used until 1873, when the present fine edifice was completed at a cost, with furnishings, of about $39,000."
        Although it was in the year 1825 when a "station" was formed in Cazenovia village, a small class had existed, supplied by circuit preachers who rode through the country on horseback and sometimes received for their year's work as much as $75 including donations.  Their expenditures usually exceeded their receipts, as they had to pay the expenses of themselves and equipage.  When the Seminary was started in December, 1824, preaching services were held in the chapel Sabbath morning, the lack of labor from the circuit preachers being supplied chiefly by Principal Porter until the Conference of 1825, when a station preacher was appointed.  When the "Stone Church" was completed, it was equal if not superior to any edifice of the kind in the Conference at the time.  The church was presented with a house and lot for a parsonage in December, 1870, valued at $2,000.
        Still another writer says "Methodism in Cazenovia dates from 1816, in which year a class meeting was formed and met in a building once used as a distillery.  This class existed as such until 1824, when it was re-organized, becoming the First Methodist Episcopal Church, the members worshiping for a time in the Madison County Court House.  After much difficulty and sacrifice the first church building, constructed of stone, was dedicated in the year 1833.  In time this structure became inadequate and plans were made for the building of a new and larger church.  After a long struggle the present edifice [designed by Archimedes Russell of Syracuse], built and furnished at a cost of $35,000 was dedicated December 17, 1873.  Rather extensive repairs were made to the building in 1900.  The recent repairs and improvements in the property made in 1924, have made the church attractive and convenient."
        At the time of the recent repairs and improvements, the whole interior was redecorated, new electric fixtures were placed throughout, a new roof was put on, the stained windows were repaired, the dining room was enlarged, the kitchen refurnished including new dishes, and an expensive heating plant was installed.  The entire cost was estimated as $15,000.
        <:46> On November 4, 1844, twelve men met in the room occupied as the high school room on the public square [probably in a room of a Select School which was held in the Madison County Hotel, at 36 Albany Street], where they were accustomed to celebrate divine worship according to the rites of the Protestant Episcopal church, for the purpose of incorporating themselves as a religious society. Rev. [Mason] Gallagher, who was then a missionary at this place, having preached here for the first time in September, in the chapel of the Seminary, was called to the chair. I t was decided to incorporate under the name of "The Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Peter's church in the town of Cazenovia, in the County of Madison."  Two wardens were elected and eight vestrymen.  December 1, 1844, the congregation worshiped for the first time in the school room which had been fitted up neatly and comfortably at an expense of about $200. Previous to the organization, services had been held here by two Bishops and thirteen ministers.  Owing to an informality in the proceedings, the parish was not received into union with the Convention in 1845.  It was subsequently re-organized and admitted the following year.  Rev. Gallagher, who had officiated as rector since the organization severed his connection with the parish in 1846.  Lay reading was statedly held for several months.  In 1847 a site for a church was selected.  The church [designed by Richard Upjohn] was finished and consecrated in 1848.  A pastor was called at a salary of $300 per year and such additional sum as could be raised for his support.
        About 1900 the transept was added. In 1924-25 the old guild room and the kitchen were remodeled and redecorated.  This work was done at the direction of Mrs. Fairchild as a memorial to her husband, the Hon. Charles S. Fairchild.  After thirty-five years' pastorate, the Rev. John T. Rose resigned the rectorship of St. Peters' January 1, 1927.  As a token of esteem he was presented with a purse of $4,000 by his congregation and friends who had been associated with the church during his pastorate.
        St. James' Roman Catholic Church was organized in 1849 by Rev. Hayes of Syracuse, who had previously conducted meetings in private houses at intervals for some six months.  The first Mass said near Cazenovia was celebrated at a home in Shelter Valley about the year 1844.  The present brick church edifice was erected in 1849-1850 [this building was demolished about 1972].  The first services were held in the church in May, 1850, before the pews were put in.  The church was not entirely completed until 1852; it was dedicated June 26, 1854.  Its cost was about $5,000.  In 1862, it was enlarged and improved at a cost of $4,500.
        Services were conducted in the church before its completion by Rev. Hayes and three assistants until the first resident pastor was appointed in 1853.  The out-missions then were Pompey Hill, Truxton and Chittenango.  A parsonage was purchased in 1860 for $1,250, and a cemetery, embracing a little more than two acres, was bought in 1861 for $200.  Gen. J.D. Ledyard and his son, Ledyard Lincklaen, were liberal contributors to the <:47> funds for the purchase of the cemetery [St. James or St Agnes Cemetery on Lincklaen Road north of the village], and to the church improvements made in 1862.  They were the principal donors of two stained-glass windows which embellish the church.  The present rectory was built in 1896 [designed by Archimedes Russell].  In 1913 many improvements were made: a new vestibule was built and an addition at the rear of the church.  In 1916 new altars were added.  The combined cost of this work was in the neighborhood of $25,000.  Work was started in the spring of 1928 on an assembly and recreational building as a place in which to hold the church suppers, Christmas festivities, social and recreational sports.
        In 1833 a Free Church was organized largely from the Presbyterians who split on the subject of abolition.  A good deal of bitterness existed on both sides for some years, but the free church ceased to exist before the war.  An abolition convention was held here about 1847.
        In 1841 a number of members left the Presbyterian society and formed the First Congregational Church, which built and worshiped in what became Concert Hall.  This was also called the Free Church and the Abolitionist Church (Comment).  It at once entered upon a stormy and strenuous career.  It was in a sense a free lance in creeds and Christianity, because, with the adherents of this church, true Christianity involved a principle, that of anti-slavery.  There were many turbulent meetings between the pro and anti-slavery elements.  Rev. John Ingersoll, father of Col. Robert O. Ingersoll, the famous agnostic, was one of the preachers.
        In the early fifties a Universalist Society had a church in the village.  It had considerable numerical strength for a little time.  It soon dwindled, however, and so in a few years disorganized and ceased to exist altogether.  The building still stands at William Street corner [now apartments at 16 William Street] and has been used for a skating rink and for stores.
        There was once a grove at the head of the lake which was a favorite picnic ground and popular for fishing parties.  Refreshments for man and beast; boats, fishing tackle, bait, etc., were furnished.  At that time camp meetings had become a prominent though extra means of grace in the Methodist Church.  The Lake View Camp Meeting Association was formed to purchase and beautify the picnic grounds for camp meetings.  During the first camp meeting, between fifty and sixty tents were pitched where many families were domiciled.  The tents formed the outside of a circle, the interior of which was fitted up with seats and a speaker's stand.  People came from all the surrounding country; railroads reduced their fares, a steamer and a barge were put on the lake to convey the people from the station to the head of the lake.  Between five and eight thousand people and more than a thousand teams were on the grounds the first Sunday although neither the trains nor boats ran on Sundays, keeping an undesirable element away. Religious services were held almost continuously, mostly in the open space, hut sometimes in the tents.  The Methodists of the Syracuse district joined those of the Cazenovia district.
 

FOOTNOTES

Footnote V-1
One writer says one "could read inscribed in a large bold handwriting in the pulpit Bible, that it was a gift to the church from Mr. Lincklaen, who was a regular attendant and liberal supporter of the church."

 

Comments and Notes by Daniel H. Weiskotten
November 1999
 
V Religion, page 41 V Religion, page 42 V Religion, page 43 V Religion, page 44 V Religion, page 45 V Religion, page 47
 Proceed on to Chapter VI      Education