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METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
WEST ELLERY - 1831
On November 12, 1821, a Methodist Episcopal Society was formed at the home of Joseph
Loucks in West Ellery for the purpose of holding worship.
Until a church could be built in 1836, worship was either held in the homes or a meeting
house mentioned as belonging to the society and being on land deeded to the Trustees of
the West Ellery Methodist Church by John A. Cadwell. This house may have been erected
in 1808, by the Baptist, who later held their meetings in a school house at Dewittville, NY.
The 1873-74 Chautauqua County Directory states that the church was organized with
twelve members, by Messrs. William Chandler and Barnes in 1831. This information was
furnished by William O. Brownell from the church records.
The Holland Land Company gave the church thirty-five acres of “Gospel Land”, located
on the north-west corner of Lot thirty-six, near the Luce Road in Ellery Township,
Chautauqua County, N. Y.
This was a warranty deed dated December 25, 1828, and not recorded until April 2, 1846,
from Wilhem Willink, the younger and Cornelis Vollenhoven by their attorney, David E.
Evans, to John B. Klock, John Rice and James Pickard, trustees of the Methodist
Episcopal Church in Ellery, for the sum of one dollar.
John A. Cadwell, of Ellery, by a deed dated April 13, 1836, gave one-half acre of land to
Elhiu Carpenter, Jacob Rowland, Adam Wetherwax, trustees of the Episcopal Methodist
West Ellery Society. This land was located on the south-east corner of lot fifty-nine. In
the deed it states there was a house on this plot of land belonging to the society. The deed
contained a clause to the effect if the house was removed and discontinued as a site for a
meeting house the land was to revert back to the Cadwell family.
Thomas and Melissa Van Wert, on April 23, 1863, deeded one-half acre of land from their
farm to Peter R. Brownell, Alonzo Felton and Robert Lazell, Trustees of the First
Episcopal Society of West Ellery for a consideration of $50. This deed was for the same
plot of land previously deeded to the society by John Cadwell in 1836, located on the
south-east corner of lot fifty-nine. The name of the church was changed from “Episcopal
Methodist West Ellery Society” to the “First Methodist Episcopal Society”. This land,
again, was to be used for the express purpose as a building site for a church or house of
public worship. A clause in the deed stated that at any time when not so occupied and
church was discontinued the land was to revert back to the Van Wert family.
On April 28, 1860, a meeting was called to reorganize the church. The following is
recorded in the County Court Records: For the purpose of organizing the
Methodist-Episcopal Church of the Town of Ellery, County of Chautauqua and State of
New York, which church was first organized November the 1st, 1821 and John Bentley Jr.
and David Loucks were chosen judges and John B. Klock, James Pickard and John Rice
Jr. were elected trustees: therefore, agreeable to public notice given to the M. E.
congregation in the Town of Ellery, met at West Ellery meeting house in pursuance of an
act providing for the incorporation of religious societies, the members present qualified
who nominated unanimously John Akers (Pastor) and Henry Martin for said congregation
to preside at said election. Thomas D. Wallis was then unanimously nominated president
of said meeting. John Akers and Henry Martin do certify that we opened the meeting and
presided over the same and do return Peter Brownell, James Pickard 2nd and Henry
Martin, elected by plurality of votes to serve as trustees for the M. E. Church of New
York thus reorganized April 18, 1860. T. S. Bly, Clerk.
On May 24, 1860, a meeting was called with Robert Lazell, chairman, to dispose of, or
mortgage, the “Gospel Lot,” in order to create a building fund. One-half of this money
was to start the building of a new church and one-half to be used in building a parsonage,
which, incidentally was built at Bemus Point, and although it has been remodeled and
up-dated it is the same building in use at the present time, as a residence.
On record at the court house in Mayville, is a warranty deed, dated August 8, 1860, from
Henry Martin, James Pickard 2nd, and Peter R. Brownell, Trustees of the Methodist
Episcopal Church of Ellery to E. Darwin Strong, consideration of $630 for sale of the
Gospel lot. The deed was given in pursuance of an order of County Court, and recorded
July 20, 1861.
There seems to be some confusion as to where the new church was to be built. A deed
dated April 1, 1861, was recorded April 3, 1861, from Joseph B. Rice, of the Town of
Ellery and Delana Rice his wife, to Henry Martin, James Pickard 2nd, Peter R. Brownell,
trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Ellery, for the sum of $400. This deed was
for three acres of land, more or less, located on Lot 25, Township 3, Range 12, at Ellery
Center. There seems to be nothing more on record about this building site until February
3, 1866, when it was sold. This deed was from Peter R. Brownell and Benjamin F.
Winchester, Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Ellery in Chautauqua County
to Mrs. Emily Wallace for the consideration of $600.
On January 23, 1871, Alonzo Felton and wife Mary C. Felton deeded to Peter R.
Brownell, James Atherly, and Abraham Pickard, Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal
Church of Ellery, a plot of land containing one-half acre more or less, for the sum of $200.
This land was at Bemus Point, beginning on the east line of a street laid out by Alonzo
Felton in the fall of 1870, and known as Second Street. This street ran westerly from
Bemus Point, and parallel with the old road leading from Bemus Point to Mayville. A few
years later the Methodist Parsonage was built on this lot.
The second Methodist Episcopal Church was built at West Ellery between 1860 and 1863.
There seems to be no record about the old church except, “it was moved away.” The new
church cost $1,700 and would seat three hundred persons according to the Chautauqua
Directory of 1873-74.
A meeting was held on October 26, 1863, for the purpose to raise money by subscription
as follows: “We the undersigned agree to pay the sum set opposite our names to the
Trustees, Robert Lazell, Alonzo Felton, P. R. Brownell of the Methodist Episcopal
Church in West Ellery, on or before the first day of January, 1864, to pay the balance due
for building he church.”
The following names were on the list with the amount pledged from fifty cents to twenty
dollars: Peter R. Brownell, T. D. Wallis, Robert Lazell, Joseph Allen, James Haskin,
James ________, L. Hunt, B. Fenton, Burton Manley, Smith Brownell, Wing, Brat
Humbert, Old Mr. Weaver, Samuel Weaver, Aaron Wilbur, Levi Carpenter, Ira Wallis, E.,
Tillyer, Timothy Ploss, William Hazzard, B. Weeks, Eliza Johnson, Oliver Klock, Celina
Pierce, Orrin Aldrich, Jane Carpenter, Warren Carpenter, Ray Scofield, David Haskin,
O. H. Brown, and Counterfeit Bill.
In 1874, the society numbered forty members and the property was valued at $3,000,
according to the church records and William C. Brownell.
At the annual meeting on May 12, 1875, a motion was made and carried that two trustees
be elected to look after the Parsonage property in Bemus Point.
The annual meeting May 24, 1895, was held at Bemus Point. At the business meeting a
motion was made and carried to elect two sets of officers; one for the West Ellery Society
and one for the Ellery Society Methodist Parsonage, thus, separating the West Ellery
Church from the Bemus Point Parsonage.
The society held entertainments and church suppers to raise money to help pay the church
expenses. In the local newspapers the following account of fund raising benefits are given:
An entertainment was given at the West Ellery Church, February 12, 1890, as a benefit to
raise funds for purchasing an organ for the church. Admission was 15 cents. Miss Carrie
Green was the soloist, and Miss Edna Howig the reader.
Two plays were given, “In the Enemy’s Camp” and “The Dutchess of Dublin.” In the cast
were: Wayland Kazer, George Barnes, Martin Furlow, Charles Brewster, Cyrus
Carpenter, Earl W. Brownell, Frank Clark, Grace Hayes, Bell Carpenter, Frank Stowell,
Harry Eddy, Marion Ingerson, William Mahanna, Elmer Green, George Thompson, Laura
Putnam, Izora Thompson, Minnie Barnes and Bell Brewster.
In the January 8, 1891 issue of the Jamestown paper appears this article in the Bemus
Point news. “In January 1891 the West Ellery Church society informed Mr. Parker that
they were unable to pay him any longer, so the pulpit was vacant for the winter at least.
Mr. Parker had served then well for the recompense he has received and his labors are
appreciated at least by most of the community.”
In the December 28, 1894, Jamestown Tri- Weekly Journal is the following account of a
Christmas Party observed in the church.
CHRISTMAS AT WEST ELLERY.
Bemus Point: December 27, Christmas is observed at West Ellery Church Monday
evening (24) and the following program was finely rendered:
Song Joy to the World Congregation
Prayer Rev. Davison
Declamation Just Before Christmas Karl Brewster
Recitation A Little Prayer Flossie Mahanna
Declamation Old Saint Nicholas Winifred Penhollow
Recitation The Lovely Flowers Buna Brown
Song Life of Christ Izora Thompson and Rev.
Declamation Who is It? Sumner Cowden
Recitation When I’m a Woman Mable Penhollow
Recitation What Baby Has Laura Rew
Recitation Santa Claus and the Mouse Alice Aldrich
Recitation Let the Sun Shine In Allan Carpenter
Recitation The Christmas Tree Katie Hayes
Song Blest to the Name of
the Lord Forever Rev. Davidson
Declamation Hear the Pennies Drop Albert Penhollow
Recitation Annie & Willie’s Prayer Grace Cothrell
Recitation Mike’s Prayer Laura Hayes
Recitation Her Question Mary Cothrell
Instrumental Music Mrs. Roy Hale
Song Katie Hayes, Flossie Mahanna, Floyd Clark, Lee Brewster
Recitation In Speaking of Other People’s
Faults Grace Cothrell
Recitation The Legion Beautiful Mrs. Belle Brewster
Solo Jesus My Savior Izora Thompson
with violin accompaniment by Rev. Davison
Presentation of gifts Rev. Davison
Remarks by Rev. Davison
Mrs. Davison was given a cash payment of $15.00. The tree was filled with beautiful and
costly presents. The church was decorated with evergreen.
Another “Christmas Eve at West Ellery,” in 1899, from a Jamestown paper reads as
follows: At 7 o’clock Christmas Eve at the Sunday School exhibition here the curtain
dropped exhibiting a ship heavily laden with many valuable gifts, ranging from a box of
candy to silk dresses, books, pictures, etc.
A program of fine recitation, vocal and instrumental music was well rendered, and
concluded by reading a letter from Russell H. Mc Kee of 190 Water Street, New York,
accompanied by 65 choice presents for the school. Mr. Mc Kee is the man that re-opened
the school last July. Among the fine presents received was a $10.00 gold piece to the
Superintendent Charles Parker, from the school.
In Ellery pioneer years the saw-mill and grist-mill, were run by water power, therefore,
were located up streams away from the lake. The early settlers built their homes near
these mills. As the town progressed steam engines replaced the water power, new roads
were built and the settlers located closer to the shore of the lake. The general shift of the
population caused the new building of taverns, post offices, schools and churches to be
relocated more convenient for the people.
By the late 1800’s many members of the West Ellery Church were residents of Bemus
Point. Because of the problem of transportation and other factors, a Sunday School was
organized at Bemus Point as early as 1885, and plans were started for a new church, to be
built on the land purchased in 1871.
In 1898, the West Ellery Church was closed to worship and the names of the members
transferred to the new Bemus Point Church. However, Sunday School was carried on for
several years at the West Ellery Methodist Church.
In 1908, the church was sold to Royal Van Wert for $250.00, but because the people
wanted the building for a community meeting house the sale was never completed.
On March 2nd, 1909, Earl W. Brownell, Mrs. Izora E. Thompson and Frank H. Clark,
Trustees of the First Methodist Church Society of West Ellery, deeded to Frank H. Clark,
Adelbert Rew and Lorenzo Putnam, Trustees of the Union Church Society of Ellery, the
church for the community, consideration $100.00. The deed was recorded May 26, 1909.
social gatherings, home talent plays and the West Ellery School Christmas exercises were
held in this building from time to time.
The tall spire, the original steeple was blown down in 1921, and never replaced. By 1939,
the church was badly in need of repair and the community, not needing the building,
transferred the church and property, in a deed from the Union Church Society of Ellery to
Wakefield Van Wert, the great grandson of Thomas and Melissa Van Wert, the original
Van Wert owners.
In 1942, young Mr. Thomas Van Wert razed the building, but even in 1990, one could
see where the old church site was.
Some of the early Pastors, who served the church, and later, Pickard Hill and Fluvanna
were: Rev. William Chandler, Mr. Barnes, Rev. John Ackers, T. W. Warner 1871-1872,
Rev. Todd, Rev. P. Burroughs, Rev. Parker, Rev. Thomas Wilder, Rev. Brockway, J. G.
Ginader, J. K. Whippo, R. A. Parsons, S. T. Davis, and Rev. Davison 1894.
Some of the early trustees, class leaders and clerks were: Benjamin B. Hoag, John D.
Klock, Peter Loucks, James Pickett, Peter Brownell, William Brownell and Earl Scofield.
Some of the early Sunday School Superintendents were: Mrs. Cornelia Brown, Charles
Hoag, Mrs. Adelbert Rew and Mrs. Ada L. Clark.
The information for this article was obtained through land deeds recorded
at the Court
House, Mayville, N. Y., newspaper articles and church records from Mrs. David Lawrence
and Mrs. George Evans, Doris W. Carlson records, Clayburne B. Sampson records,
Loraine C. Smith records, and micro-film at the Prendergast Library, Jamestown, N.Y.
SOURCE: Loraine Smith, Town of Ellery Historian. 2002.