"First Baptist Church of Cazenovia
in New Woodstock"
pages 36 to 39
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Ellsworth, Anzolette D., and Mary E. Richmond, 1901, New Woodstock and Vicinity, Past & Present. J.A. Loyster, Cazenovia, NY
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First Baptist Church in Cazenovia at New Woodstock.
On December 8, 1800, Rev. James Bacon, of Torrington, Mass., Nathan Baker, then a licentiate, of Pompey, N.Y.; and four other brethren met in "Cazenovia Woodstock Settlement," at the home of Ebenezer Corbin, on the farm now owned by Mrs. P.S. Buell, and agreed to hold monthly conferences. As a result, six mouths later, on June 17, 1801, a council having been chosen from the following churches, Pompey, DeRuyter, First and second Hamilton, a church was formed with sixteen constituent members, ten brethren and six sisters as follows: Elder James Bacon, Samuel Tyler, David Smith, Abiel Ainsworth, Luther Gage, Marvel Underwood, Mary Tyler, Anna Corbin, Betsey Underwood, Ruth Chafee, Warner Goodell, Solomon Mirick, Stephen Chafe, Abisnai [Abisha] Underwood, Lucy Bugbee, and Elizabeth Mirick. The first ten had previously joined the monthly conference by letter, and the remaining six joined, after being baptized by Elder Bacon, who became first pastor. Warner Goodell was first deacon. Fourteen years later he went west as a missionary. Marvel Underwood was chosen first church clerk, serving in that capacity nine years.
In 1802, the first church in the town, a log meeting house, eighteen by twenty-four feet, was built at West Woodstock, on land owned now by Sylvanus Gage. This soon became too small, and a frame building thirty feet square was built with the aid of the Presbyterians. The site was on the northwest corner of land owned by Jonathan Smith, a pioneer of 1795, whose tavern, now called the Bell house, stood a few rods east of the building.
In 1803, Elder Bacon, who was over seventy years of age, feeling that the work was more than he could endure, persuaded his people to make a change, and used his influence in obtaining Elder John Peck, then a licentiate of Norwich, N.Y., to come as pastor in 1804. He was ordained in 1806. The people gave him seven acres of land and built him a house on the farm now owned by Edward L. Buell.
In 1815, John Savage, a pioneer who came in 1800, gave the site where the present church stands. Nathan Smith was the master builder, and was assisted by Marvel Underwood, Eliakim Clark, Dyer Lamb, and others. The church was built with many doubts as to the wisdom of changing the location, and with fears that pride was entering in, and that God could no longer bless their work. They soon, however; had cause for rejoicing, as more than two hundred persons, among them some of the most active Christians whose names are written in the church records, united with the church within three years. The raising of such a building was a great undertaking for those times. Let us remember that the country was but thinly settled and much of it covered with woods. Some of the people came with ox teams from the west side of the lake, a distance of ten miles, and worshiped, as has been aptly said, with no fire except what they brought in their hearts.
Elder Peck was pastor thirty-one years, during his pastorate baptizing six hundred forty as members of the church. During the latter half of his pastorate he did missionary work, principally for the Hamilton Missionary Society, and was absent at one time nine months, his place being usually supplied by Elder Joseph Coley. In 1814, Elders John Peck, John Lawton, of North Pitcher, Peter P. Roots, and Daniel Hascall began a monthly magazine which was called "The Vehicle." It afterward changed to "The Western Baptist Magazine," then to "The New York Baptist Register," and finally became "The Examiner." In 1835 Mr. Peck resigned and devoted his time wholly to missionary work. He died in New York City in. 1849, aged seventy years. His remains were brought to New Woodstock, and buried in the cemetery near the church where he labored so many years. His wife, a daughter, and three sons are buried near. Two of the sons were ministers, Philetus, pastor of the church at Owego, and Linus of the Hamilton church. Their mother died in 1847, two weeks before they did. A double funeral was held for the two brothers.
The pastors who succeeded Elder Peck were as follows: Rev. John Bishop, 1835-1838; Rev. Daniel Putnam, 1839-1847; Rev. I.K. Brownson, <:38> 1848-1849; Rev. John Fulton, 1850-1858; Rev. Nathan Mumford, 1859-1866; Rev. Butler Morley, 1867-1868; Rev. H. Garlick, 1869; Rev. Perry C. Bentley, 1870; Rev. A. LeRoy, 1871-1872; Rev. John N. Tolman, 1873-1876; Rev. E.P. Brigham, 1877-1883; Rev. S.B. Leary, 1884-1888; Rev. Frank Irving Roscoe, 1889-1891; Rev. F.H. Devine (supply), 1892; Rev. Charles G. Simmons, 1893-1898; Rev. W.A. Pugsley, 1899; Rev. E.E. Manning, present pastor. Rev. Joshua Clark, a seventh day Baptist minister in DeRuyter, supplied the church several months at different times.
One of the greatest revivals in the history of the church was in 1831. Sixty-two received the hand of fellowship at one time. Among the number were William D. Corbin, Philetus Peck and Elisha L. Abbott, all of whom became ministers, Elisha Abbott and his wife, Ann Gardner, going as missionaries to the Karens in 1835, and Mrs. Cornelia Heffron Ward went to India in 1850. Rev. William Corbin, Rev. George Scott, and several other young men went west as Home missionaries.
The church has recorded 1551 names as members. Thirty-eight in the phraseology of the olden time, "have been given liberty to improve their gifts wherever God in His Providence should lead them." Twelve ministers have been ordained. Rev. George Scott of Nebraska, seventy nine years of age, and Rev. W.D. Corbin of Syracuse, eighty-seven, are the only ones living.
A Sabbath School was organized in 1804 and was a summer school till 1867. Rev. B. Morley, who was then pastor, suggested that the school could be continued through the winter. It did not "freeze out" as some feared, and has been held regularly throughout every winter since that time. The sessions of the Sunday School were formerly held in the lower part of the Academy, across the street from the church.
A mite society was formed in 1812 with Miss Hannah Lathrop, president, Elizabeth Savage, secretary, and Josephine Corbin, treasurer. It still exists as the Baptist Ladies' Aid Society.
In 1820 the village church at Cazenovia was formed and called the Second Baptist Church of Cazenovia. This greatly reduced the membership of the parent church, ninety members being dismissed out of two hundred.
In 1829 the subject of Speculative Free Masonry troubled the church. Five of the members who were Masons cheerfully relinquished their connection with the order from a sense of duty to God and for the sake of unity. Benjamin Enos alone refused and nearly two years later the hand of fellowship was withdrawn from him. In a few years, however, Mr. Enos gave up Masonry, and was restored to the church.
A little description of the church and some reminiscences may be of interest. When the church was built in 1815 there were winding stairs to reach the pulpit, which was on a high platform sustained by pillars.
<:39> Underneath the pulpit was the deacon's seat. The pews were high and nearly square and closed by a door fastened with a button. A gallery extended around the west, south and east sides. Two rows of long seats went around the sides of the gallery, and three rows on the south side where the singers sat. Box seats were near the windows on the east and west sides of the gallery. A box stove was introduced after a time, a platform being built for it on the top of one of the pews near the center of the house. The next improvement was a bass viol, which was a great grief to some of the people who disliked a fiddle in the meeting house. The choir numbered twenty or even thirty, and did the singing, not even the minister joining. Marvel Underwood was one of the early leaders, pitching the tune with a fork. The congregation arose during the singing and turned their backs to the pulpit in order to face the choir. At communion the pastor "lined" the hymn, that is he read two lines and all sang them then read two lines more and the people sang again and so on till the hymn was finished. The collection boxes were fastened to the end of a stick four feet in length and resembled the modern corn-popper. In prayer time every one stood, old and young, no matter how long the prayer. In hot weather if a person became sleepy he arose and stood a while. Sometimes two or three would be standing at a time. At funerals the mourners were "addressed." If the deceased were the head of a family, the wife must stand and be talked to for several minutes, then the children were consoled and counseled in the most pathetic language and so on until all the relatives were addressed. During the pastorate of Rev. Daniel Putnam, Daniel Alvord, aged 85 and Anna his wife, aged 81, united with the church. Owing to their extreme age they were baptized near their home at Shed's Corners.
In 1874, during the pastorate of Rev. J.N. Tolman, the church was re-modeled to its present condition, and a chapel added. A re- union was held at its completion. Mary Fiske, the granddaughter of Elder John Peck, gave the communion service upon that occasion, which is still in use. Miss Anna Lyon gave her entire income for that year to the church, the vestibule being fitted up with the money she contributed. When Rev. S.B. Leary was pastor, in 1886-1887, a kitchen was built on by the Ladies' Aid Society.
The centennial of this church was celebrated June 16 and 17, 1901. At
the Roll Call one hundred forty names of members were called, one hundred
thirteen responding, personally or by letter. The oldest person present
was Mrs. Elvira Slocum, aged ninety-seven. Mrs. E.D. Cruttenden,
who was born the day the present church was raised, and who became a member
seventy years ago, was able to attend and enjoy the two days' services.
Rev. E.P. Brigham, the oldest living ex-pastor, was present, also Rev.
S.B. Leary and Rev. F.H. Devine, former pastors.
Proceed on to the Next Section, History of the Methodist Church