Fifty-five years ago, in 1839, a railway connecting Utica and Syracuse was completed. In this locality it ran through an almost unbroken wilderness.
An enterprising man, Mr. Sands Higinbotham, who owned a large tract of land here, having contributed a portion of it to the railroad, secured a depot at this point, and entered into a contract with the managers of the road, which stipulated that for an unlimited period every passenger train should stop fifteen minutes. This arrangement made this place a desirable one in which to locate, and so the village of Oneida Depot sprang into existence and in five years it contained about two hundred inhabitants. Fortunately, many of these were a substantial, right-minded sort of people, religiously inclined. I find the following in an old diary:
"March 27, 1843. Rev. Mr. Batten (Episcopalian) called a meeting and tried to form a society.
"April 9. Mr. Batten preached.
"April 30. Rev. Mr. Gregg (Episcopalian) preached.
"August 20. Elder Ransom (Baptist) preached.
"August 27. Mr. Batten preached.
"September 18. A Catholic priest held a service.
"October 16. Elder Ransom preached.
"March 3, 1844. Elder Blodgett (Presbyterian) preached.
"June 16. Rev. Mr. Nichols preached.
"On Saturday there was a row in the reading room where the above services were held. The president of the literary society did not want any more religious services held in that building."
Soon after the citizens wisely decided to organize a church. Our present pastor, Dr. Jessup, in a discourse delivered July 2, 1876, said:
"Early in the year 1844 a meeting was held at the house of Mr. Sands Higinbotham on Main Street to consult in regard to the formation of a Presbyterian church and society in this village. There were present at this meeting Mr. and Mrs. Sands Higinbotham, their son Niles Higinbotham, Alexander Stewart, James Stewart, Jeremiah Cooper, Jacob Cooper, Garrett Van Brocklin, Simon P. New, and Luke Hitchcock.
"At this meeting it was resolved to undertake the enterprise, including the erection of a suitable house of worship, as soon as practicable. The outcome of this first conference was a public meeting, of which the following record was made:
"A meeting of the citizens of Oneida Depot and vicinity was held in the reading room on Mill Street (now Madison) Friday evening, March 1, 1844, for the purpose of forming a Presbyterian Society, and to elect trustees for the forming a Presbyterian Society, and to elect trustees for the same. Heman Phelps was made chairman, and Stephen H. Goodwin secretary. It was resolved, That the number of trustees of this society be three, who and their survivors forever shall be known by the name and title of the trustees of the Oneida Depot Presbyterian Society, and whenever a church is to be organized in this society they are to apply to a presbytery which is in connection with the Old School General Assembly for such organization.
"The following persons were elected trustees:
"James Stewart for one year.
"Jeremiah Cooper for two years.
"Stephen H. Goodwin for three years.
"It was also resolved, that Luke Hitchcock, N. Higinbotham, and S. E. Cobb be a building committee to associate with the trustees, to circulate a subscription, and build a house for public worship if funds enough can be obtained.
"The action of this meeting was duly certified to and recorded in the clerk's office on the 25th of March following, and the society became incorporate under an act of the legislature.
On April 29 of the same year thirty-six persons, citizens of Oneida Valley and vicinity, signed a request to the presbytery of Albany that it would delegate a committee to visit this place and examine into the expediency of forming here a Presbyterian church. In compliance with that request, on June 13, 1844, appeared Rev. E. S. Barrows, Rev. J. H. McIlvaine, Rev. A. Bloodgood, and Rev. James Nichols of the Albany presbytery, and proceeded to organize a church and to ordain elders therein.
"The following persons, thirty in number whose letters of dismission and recommendation were found to be regular and satisfactory, were formed into a church:
"Heman Phelps, Jeremiah Cooper, James Moore, Peter D. Cooper, Garret Van Brocklin, Charles L. Gardner, David Blackman, Simon P. New, William Stewart, Francis Stewart, Alexander Stewart, James Stewart, Cornelius Stewart, Jacob H. Cooper.
"Mary Phelps, Maria Cooper, Martha Moore, Gitty Cooper, Reny L. Van Brocklin, Louisa Gardner, Asenath Blackman, Sarah New, Isabella Stewart, Jane Stewart, Christina J. Stewart, Eliza Stewart, Ann Eliza Cooper, Agnes Cooper, Caroline Cooper, Harriet Cooper,"
Of these thirty there were nine Stewarts and nine Coopers.
Twenty of these original members were received by letter from the older church at Wampsville, and since then we have from time to time drawn of the strength of that church, which in a measure accounts for its present enfeebled condition. The question arises, Have we made proper returns to this our mother church?
The following brethren were the first ruling elders of this church: David Blackman, Heman Phelps, James Stewart, Jeremiah Cooper, Charles L. Gardner.
The first clerk of the session was Jeremiah Cooper, elected June 21, 1844.
The first sermon was a sacramental discourse delivered by the Rev. Mr. McIlvaine, after which the Rev. Mr. Barrows administered the ordinance of the Lord's Supper to the church.
The church thus formed adopted the constitution of the Presbyterian Church, the Longer and Shorter Catechisms, the Articles of Faith, and the Covenant. These latter consisted of thirteen lengthy statements of doctrinal belief, and an iron-clad pledge of allegiance. They were sufficiently strong and comprehensive to satisfy the most extreme adherents of the Old School branch of our Church.
The "requisite funds" for the new church must have been raised, for on November 30, 1844, at a meeting it was resolved, that the new meeting house be dedicated to the worship of God so soon after the 1st day of January next as the paint of said house is sufficiently dry, and the traveling will admit, and that the Rev. D. D. Nott be invited to preach the dedicatory sermon, and in case of his failure, the Rev. Mr. McIlvaine or Rev. Mr. Barrows be invited to preach. The lot upon which the church was built was on the corner of Main and Mulberry streets, and was the gift of Mr. Niles Higinbotham, and was valued at two hundred dollars.
The original edifice was a small wooden building, sixty feet long by forty feet broad. It was surmounted by a steeple about fifty feet high, in which one year later was hung the bell we are now using. The interior of the building was finished with plastered ceiling, with no decoration. The pews were of the square high-back order, with high doors in the end, and were far more comfortable than were some of the instruments of the Inquisition. They consisted of two rows through the center of the church, and at right angles to these was one row running lengthwise along each of the side walls. A narrow vestibule ran across the front end, over which was a gallery, where the singers and the noisy boys were to be found. A small stove was placed in the vestibule, and just inside the doors in each corner were two large box stoves for burning wood, and from these ran pipes through the room to the chimneys in the rear end. Back of the church long sheds were built to shelter the horses of those who came in from the country to attend service. The cost of the whole was about $1500, of which $1150 was raised by subscription, and for the balance of $350 a mortgage on the property was given to Tilly Lynde. This is the only mortgage, I think, we have ever had occasion to give. It was paid May 26, 1856.
Toward the erection of the building both men and women contributed liberally, not only of money, but of labor and material. Farmers came in with their teams, and helped to uproot the stumps and grade the lot. Very much of the timber was given by Mr. Sands Higinbotham, and was cut from his land north of the railroad and rafted up the Feeder. After the timber was on the ground and prepared, then came the "raising." This was a great event. The people came from all directions. Refreshments were provided in great abundance. Pumpkin pies, sandwiches, cake, lemonade (nothing stronger) by the pailful and barrelful, enough to satisfy all present. The ladies held church fairs then as now. The first one was at the Railroad House, then kept by Erasmus Stone. With the proceeds they purchased a large Bible, chairs, festooned trimmings with tassels for the pulpit, cushions for the pews, chandeliers, etc. It was truly a work of love.
The first pastor was Rev. James Nichols, who came from Utica. He was in charge of this church from its organization until November, 1850, a little over six years.
At a meeting of the session held August 24, 1844, it was resolved, That Jeremiah Cooper be appointed a delegate to the next meeting of the presbytery of Albany, and that he request said presbytery to receive this church under its watch and care; also that said delegate beseech said presbytery that they would recommend our church to the General Assembly's Board of Missions, and grant us some aid to support the gospel here, and appoint the Rev. James Nichols as a missionary to labor among us.
At a meeting of the session held September 28, 1844, Jeremiah Cooper reported that at the meeting of the presbytery of Albany, held at Fonda's Bush, on the 3d of September, said presbytery had received our church under its watch and care, and that they had voted to aid us to the extent of two hundred dollars for the ensuing year.
At a meeting of the church and congregation held February 1, 1845, Rev. James Nichols was elected pastor at an annual salary of five hundred dollars.
He was ordained and installed February 8, 1845. The installation sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Chester, the charge to the pastor by Rev. Mr. Huntington, the charge to the people by the Rev. Mr. Wood. During Mr. Nichols' stay with us two more elders were added to the session, James McFarland, December 1, 1849, and Garret Van Brocklin, March 1, 1850. In December, 1846, James McFarland and E. R. Willard were ordained and installed as deacons of this church.
During Mr. Nichols' six years, the membership of the church increased from the original thirty to seventy-eight. Forty-five were received by letter and eighteen on profession of their faith, while fifteen were dismissed. The first person to unite with the church on profession of faith was Mrs. Julia Randall (mother of Alonzo Randall), on February 22, 1845. Among other persons who were received during that period were Mr. And Mrs. Nathan B. Wilber, Mrs. Abby Goodwin, Mrs. Ann Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Grove W. Stoddard, Mr. And Mrs. Earl Loomis (parents of Mrs. Lucinda Payson), Mr. Socrates W. Squiers, and Emily M. Squiers, his wife (who was a daughter of Elder James McFarland). Mrs. Squiers now lives in Connecticut. Of the original thirty members only two are now living: Mrs. Reny L. Van Brocklin, now eighty-seven years old, and who lives south of Oneida in the same house where she then lived, and Mrs. Isabella Stewart, age seventy-nine, widow of Francis Stewart, now living with her daughter, Mrs. Nettie Mitchell, near Cazenovia.
Mr. Nichols was compelled by utter prostration and loss of voice to resign his pastoral charge here, which he did in November, 1850. He went to Geneseo to take charge of a presbyterial academy there. The change had a favorable effect, though for three years he was unable to preach. While in this school a powerful revival occurred, during which there were more than sixty conversions among the pupils. About twenty of these entered the ministry. He left Geneseo in April, 1858, and went to Rochester to take charge of the Rochester Female Academy. Soon after he became interested in the Western House of Refuge, and was appointed chaplain of the institution, which position he held until his death. In 1861 he was made chaplain of the 108th Regiment, which left Rochester in August, 1862, and joined the army in time to be present on the field of Antietam. After that bloody action he buried thirty-three of those fresh recruits, and, saddened, he took his place in the extemporized hospitals of the regiment as it moved on to Fredericksburg, caring for the sick and dying as best he might. In March, 1863, he was compelled to resign, because of an attack of pleurisy. In the summer he so far rallied as to go to Saratoga, stopping at Oneida on his way. His last look at the dear village was at the church and at the graveyard, where lay two of his children, and at the old parsonage. He returned home, tried to resume work, but gave it up, and after a few months died on January 31, 1864.
The following persons were members of the first choir: Jeremiah Cooper, chorister, Harrison Randall, Caleb Bascom, who sometimes played the bass viol, Mr. And Mrs. Socrates Squiers, Mrs. Abby Goodwin, Lucinda Loomis (now Payson), Sarah Cooper, Mrs. James A. Bennett, Mrs. William Hunt.
Choir singers even in those days would sometimes let their angry passions rise. One Sunday morning the chorister, Mr. Cooper, held opinions not in accord with those of the rest of the choir. Failing to bring them into harmony with him, he locked the organ, put the key in his pocket, went down and sat with the congregation, and awaited further developments. When the time came to sing, lo! the organ started up as usual, much to the astonishment of the chorister.
Two boys, Alonzo Randall and Richard Chantry, had picked the lock with a knife.
In those days the choir did all the singing, no books being furnished to the people in the pews. All the congregation would rise to their feet at every hymn, and turn their backs to the minister, so as to face the choir in the gallery. This practice was continued until Rev. Mr. Gregory came. He kept the people "front face" all through the service.
A few, however, who objected to the "city style" brought from Philadelphia by the pastor, for a while persisted in turning about in the old way.
Donation parties were indispensable in those days. The first one, held for the benefit of Rev. Mr. Nichols, was at his home at Oneida Castle, where he first lived after coming from Utica, in a house belonging to Mr. Graves on the street running to Sconondoah. These donations were annual affairs, held usually in Empire Hall (over Theo. Carter's store). Later on they were held in Devereux Hall. They were kept up until Rev. Mr. Robinson came. He objected to them, so they were discontinued. For a time at the beginning prayer meetings were held from house to house, then at the church, during the winter months in the vestibule, as it was easily warmed, and in the summer in the body of the church.
The first parsonage was built about two years after the erection of the church. It was first occupied by Rev. Mr. Nichols, he having moved there from Oneida Castle. It then had a basement, in which Mr. Nichols conducted a select school. It was the building now owned and occupied by Mr. Albert Marcellus, No. 134 Main Street.
Almost from the first our church has been a self-sustaining one. Rev. Mr. Nichols began with a salary of five hundred dollars, and only on the first year was any aid asked of the Board of Missions, when we received, as before stated, a contribution of two hundred dollars. Since 1852 we have regularly and in steadily increasing amounts given to the cause of missions.
On the 21st day of May, 1851, the session resolved, That we invite the Rev. Caspar R. Gregory, who is a member of the presbytery of Philadelphia, having engaged to supply our pulpit for one year, to act as our moderator during his stay among us.
Early in 1852 Rev. Mr. Gregory was unanimously chosen the pastor of this church, at a salary of five hundred dollars. He was installed by the presbytery of Mohawk on Tuesday evening March 9, 1852. During his pastorate of thirteen years the following persons served as elders: James Stewart, Jeremiah Cooper, Garret L. Van Brocklin, Robert J. Stewart, Earl Loomis, Johnson Harvey, Josiah Simons, Alonzo Randall, Seymour E. Douglass, Charles H. Eames, Goodwin P. Soper.
When Mr. Gregory resigned the whole number of communicants was 116. While he was here 95 were received on profession of their faith and 59 by letter, a total of 154, while 116 were dismissed.
Dr. Gregory's relation with us was dissolved in March, 1864, that he might accept a call from the First Presbyterian Church at Bridgeton, N. J. The following is from a sermon of Dr. Jessup's delivered July 2, 1876:
"Dr. Gregory was therefore pastor of this church for thirteen years, nearly twice as long as his predecessor, the honored a beloved first pastor, and more than three times as long as either of his successors. It is not too much to say, therefore, that more than any other he has made his mark upon the church. He ministered in times of agitation, when almost every church in the land was more or less disturbed, and doubtless this church did not escape. But throughout his pastorate the church grew steadily in numbers and influence, and not a few of those among us hold in grateful remembrance his pastoral fidelity and watchfulness. In a short sketch from his pen he speaks with warm interest of many of his co-laborers, both in the church and society, among whom, since they are no longer with us, I may mention the names of James Stewart, Mr. and Mrs. N. B. Wilbur, Mr. Sands Higinbotham, Mrs. Sands Higinbotham, now living in Schenectady, Mr. Samuel Breese, and Mr. Romain T. Fiske, for several years superintendent of Sunday School. In reference to the church life in the earlier days he says, 'They were not forgetful to entertain strangers, and while every family had its own intimate friends and associates, it acted on the principle that every member of the congregation was welcome to the house of every other. And the ladies of the congregation made it a part of the service of the Lord Jesus to call upon every family who entered our church more than once, and at inexpensive gatherings in their own homes to introduce those who would worship with us. It was a custom to look after the young, and if a young man would but make it possible for them to do so, the church would introduce him to their own society and homes'. Undoubtedly this greatly contributed to the prosperity of the church in those early days, and I am sure we have not outgrown the need and importance, even if we have outgrown the habit of doing likewise.
"Our terrible Civil War occurred during Dr. Gregory's pastorate, and he says of those trying times, 'The Lord was very good to this church. On the day after the firing upon Sumter, at the suggestion of the pastor, two ladies, both of whom are now with us, made a flag (for none could be bought), and the dawn of the Sabbath saw it floating from the top of the steeple, where it stayed until whipped into shreds. The text of that morning was Psalm xx. 5-7, "We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners; the Lord fulfill all thy petitions. Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God."
" 'The church never wavered in its loyalty, the pulpit gave no uncertain sound, and yet such was the goodness of God that, while the congregation was made up of men whose opinions were of all shades, even to the most opposite extremes, yet there was no interruption of harmony and not a single man forsook the service. The church contributed constantly to the wants of the army, and gave to it the young men whom she felt least able to spare; but she followed them with her prayers, and in His good mercy He who hears prayer brought nearly all them back, honored, safe, beloved.' Two brave boys from the Sunday School, Barton Harvey and John R. Stewart, did not return."
From Bridgeton, N. J., Dr. Gregory was called to a professorship in Lincoln University at Oxford, Pa., where he remained until his death, which occurred February 26, 1882. He was fifty-eight years of age. His last visit to Oneida was in November, 1879.
On March 23, 1857, Dr. Earl Loomis was elected deacon, he being the third and last one elected to that office in our church.
On February 7, 1864, after much deliberation it was resolved, That the members of the church be called together on the 8th inst., at ten o'clock a. m., to decide the propriety of letting all female members of the church have a right to vote in the election of elders. The meeting of the male members of the church was held on the 8th inst. and the right of suffrage (as above) was extended to women.
For a number of years up to 1861 persons renting pews were required to give their notes for the price of the same, these being payable half July 1, the balance January 1, following. If these notes ran overdue ten days five percent was added.
In 1857 the church was enlarged by adding a vestibule in front, and throwing open the old one as a part of the audience room.
Our pastor, Rev. Mr. Gregory, having built a house for himself, in 1860 the parsonage was sold to Mr. C. A. Walrath.
On August 25, 1864, a call was extended to Rev. Charles E. Robinson of Woodbury, Conn., to be our pastor. Mr. Robinson accepted the call. He first met with the session December 1, 1864. He was installed by the presbytery of Mohawk at a meeting held in our church March 1, 1865. The installation sermon was preached by Rev. R. W. Condit, D. D., of Oswego. Charge to the pastor by Rev. Samuel M. Campbell, D. D., of Utica. Charge to the people, Rev. F. Filmore of Syracuse. Rev. Mr. Robinson was our pastor until July 30, 1867, when he resigned to accept a call from the Second Presbyterian Church of Troy, N. Y. No change was made in the session while Mr. Robinson was here. In his two and one-half years the membership of the church increased from 116 to 174, a gain of 58; 42 united on profession of faith and 41 by letter, a total of 83, while 25 were dismissed. The amount contributed for benevolent purposes during that period was $685.14, an average of $229 per year, and $8264 was raised for congregational purposes.
Besides this our present parsonage was built in 1866. The contract price with J. A. Frost for the erection of the building was $2460. The total cost, however, was $3085.09, of which amount about $1500 was raised by subscription, while the balance was the proceeds of a mortgage which the church had held against the former parsonage.
In 1864, just at the beginning of Mr. Robinson's pastorate, quite extensive repairs were made on the church. The building was lengthened out, the old sheds were removed from the rear, and in their place was built the session room (now used as the emergency room). The old box seats were torn out and more modern ones put in their place. The walls were frescoed. The old stoves and the long pipes were discarded, and a wood-burning furnace was put in, all this being done at an expense of $2023.45. Certainly while Mr. Robinson was here the people had a mind to give, for in two and one-half years $12,472.59 was raised, an average of about $5000 per year. This was very soon after the war, and the people were made liberal by its stimulating influences.
At a meeting of the society held in February, 1867, it was resolved, That we as a church are more than satisfied with our pastor, Rev. Charles E. Robinson. From Troy Mr. Robinson was called to the First Presbyterian Church of Rochester. He is now pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Scranton, Pa.
At a meeting of the congregation held October 7, 1867, Rev. George D. Baker of the Stone Street Presbyterian Church, Watertown, N. Y., was elected pastor. He was installed by the presbytery of Mohawk December 3, 1867. Installation sermon by the Rev. Dr. Condit of Oswego. Charge to the pastor, Rev. Dr. Strong. Charge to the people, Rev. James A. Worden, D. D., now superintendent of Sabbath school and missionary work. Dr. Baker remained with us until July 28, 1871, when he resigned to accept a call from the First Presbyterian Church of Detroit, Mich. One change was made in the session while he was here. On July 26, 1868, A. Wayne Barker was ordained elder. The membership of the church increased from 174 to 225, 42 having been received on profession of faith and 63 by letter, in all 105, while 54 were dismissed. The Sunday school attained a membership of 250. The liberality of the church had not grown less, for during this three and one-half years there was contributed for benevolent purposes upward of $1500, and for congregational uses $12,097.10, a total of $13,600.
In 1869 two large reflectors were placed in the ceiling of the church at an expense of $250. Pipes were also put in and other fixtures for the use of gas. In 1868 a barn was built and other improvements made at the parsonage, involving an expense of $948.63, of which amount Rev. Mr. Baker contributed $563.63.
From Detroit Dr. Baker was called to his present position as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.
At a meeting of the society held October 26, 1871, Rev. William N. Page of Amenia, N. Y., was elected pastor, and a committee appointed to present and prosecute a call. Mr. Page accepted, but subsequently, for reasons stated by him, and approved by the church, he withdrew his acceptance.
On the evening of March 26, 1872, Rev. Samuel Jessup of Dansville, N. Y. was elected pastor. He began his work here on Sunday, May 5, 1872.
He was installed at the evening session of the presbytery of Utica, convened in our church Tuesday, September 10, 1872. Installation sermon by Rev. S. P. Sprecher of Utica. Charge to the pastor, Rev. T. B. Hudson, D. D., of Clinton. Charge to the people, Rev. Peter Stryker, D. D., of Rome. On May 5 last he had served this people as pastor twenty-two years. The following persons have assisted him in the work as elder: Robert J. Stewart, Alonzo Randall, A. Wayne Barker, Goodwin P. Soper, Myron M. Allen, Jacob Winnie, William H. Carter, Ambrose W. Hill, Everton C. Stark, Charles B. Cowles, Richard B. Ruby, Miles Upson, William M. Baker, Julius J. Smith.
The membership of the church has increased from 225 to 543, the number enrolled at the present time. During these twenty-two years 424 persons have united with the church on profession of their faith, and 252 have been received by letters from other churches, making 676 accessions in all, an average of 31 per year. In the same period the amount given to benevolent objects has been $17,639.26, an average of $801.80 per year. During the last eight years, when we have been working under the Systematic Pledge plan, the average amount of benevolent contributions has been $1137.05 per year, an average gain over that of the previous fourteen years of $524.70.
The amount raised for congregational purposes during the twenty-two years has been $65,324, an average of $2970. Besides this, in 1883-84 our new church was erected at a cost of $27,654.47, and the lot cost $4000, a total of $31,654.47. Of this amount $23,711.50 was raised by subscription, and $7680 from the sale of the old church property. The balance of $262.97 was taken from the general fund.
In the year 1872 at the February meeting of the congregation we began the system of selling the church pews at auction. This method of raising money to pay expenses
At the last February meeting the holders of pews were allowed to retain their seats at their appraised value, and the unclaimed ones were then sold at the same rate.
This church during its whole existence of fifty years has had only five pastors. Nearly one-half of that time has been covered by the pastorate of Dr Jessup, while Dr. Gregory's extended over a little more than one-quarter of the time, leaving the other one-quarter to be divided between the other three pastors.
I divide the fifty years as follows:
Rev. James Nichols, 6 years, 4 months, 17 days.
Supplies, 6 months, 20 days.
Rev. C. R. Gregory, D. D., 12 years, 9 months, 10 days.
Supplies, 9 months.
Rev. C. E. Robinson, D. D., 2 years, 8 months.
Supplies, 2 months, 7 days.
Rev. George D. Baker, D. D., 3 years, 9 months, 23 days.
Supplies, 9 months, 5 days.
Rev. Samuel Jessup. D. D., 22years, 1 month, 8 days.
As to these five ministers of the gospel it may truly be said that in each case the relationship between pastor and people has been characterized by an unusual degree of harmony and affectionate regard. More than an ordinary measure of prosperity has attended the labors of these faithful servants of God among us.
Our history has been one of uninterrupted growth and advancement, as indicated by the figures given in this sketch. Our church has been active in missionary work. The first missionary society of which I find any record was one organized from the Sunday school in 1851 at the beginning of Dr. Gregory's pastorate by Mr. Romain Fiske. This society held monthly meetings for seven years. It divided its attention and money equally between the home and foreign fields, and considering the difficulties under which it labored it did good work. It numbered among its members such persons as Seymour E. Douglass, Alonzo Randall, John E. Stone.
The Woman's Missionary Society was organized in the spring of 1873, the second year of Dr. Jessup's pastorate. Its first meeting was held in the session room of the old church. Later meetings were held at the houses of the members. Now they are held in our session room on the first Monday of each month. The first president was Mrs. Mary A. Seeley, who occupied the position many years. Its first secretary was Mrs. Wm. Baker. Among the original members were Mrs. J. Newell Avery, Mrs. M. M. Allen, Mrs. Wm. H. Carter, Mrs. Florence Loomis Stark, Mrs. Dr. Spooner, all of whom are dead. Among those now living are Mrs. Samuel Jessup, Mrs. Addie Crumb, Mrs. Alonzo Randall, Mrs. Jacob Winnie.
In 1881 this society was reorganized, at which time Mrs. Wilber F. Leete was made president. She is now serving her thirteenth year in that position. The other officers are Mrs. Samuel Jessup, vice president; Mrs. Frank Chapin, secretary; Miss Georgie Bull, treasurer. At first they gave their attention mostly to the foreign fields, but later it has been equally divided between the home and foreign.
This society now numbers sixty members.
The disbursements to various objects during the past year amounted to $255, which is a fair average. There is a very efficient branch of this society which confines itself exclusively to caring for the poor of our own church. This department is officered as follows: Mrs. Dr. E. P. Bailey, president; Mrs. Dr. E. J. Stone, secretary; Mrs. Wm. E. Douglas, treasurer. During last year upward of $225 was dispensed by them among those in need of help.
At the parsonage on July 1, 1875, a society was organized called the Missionary Circle of Little Workers. Its work was carried on under the direction of Mrs. Newell J. Abbott. Its first president was Emma Crawford; secretary and treasurer, Anna Carter. They met once a month, and a musical and literary programme was rendered at each meeting, and money was raised by them to be used in the cause of missions. Much work was done for the poor by this circle in the line of making bed quilts, sheets, pillowcases, and other clothing. I quote from their secretary's book: "Bright, beautiful evening. Good attendance. Received $8.14. Christmas offerings by members consisting of tea, sugar, bread, buckwheat, calico, etc., were distributed by the little girls to three families as Christmas gifts. Kindly received by them, and made glad the hearts of the givers."
Some of these little workers were Alice Baker, Kitty Jacobs, Addie Rockwell, Emma Ayres, Lillie Lawrence, Jeanie Seeley, May Chapin, Nellie Merrick, Birdie Atherly, Mattie Klock. This society continued its existence for over five years.
A missionary band, made up of girls from the Sunday school who call themselves the King's Messengers, was organized in 1889 under the direction of Mrs. W. F. Leete. They devote their services to both home and foreign missionary work. Its officers are Gertrude Randall, president; Lillie May Douglass, vice president; Daisy Winnie, secretary; Clara Phillips, treasurer. It numbers thirty-five members. Since their organization five years ago they have raised over one hundred dollars, which has been divided equally between the two fields. They also render very valuable service in other ways.
A mission sewing school, the members of which are called the Willing Workers, has been organized by Mrs. D. D. McNair's Bible class of young ladies. This school assembles every Saturday afternoon in the church parlors, and a large number of children are there taught how to make various articles of clothing which are distributed among the needy. They are now engaged in filling a barrel to be sent to Asheville, N. C. It is a grand work. This society invites inspection.
The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor of our church was organized May 6, 1894, with eighty-five charter members. Its first officers were F. N. Moulton, president; Anna E. Ostrander, vice president; William M. Baker, secretary; Lillian Walrath, treasurer. It holds its meetings every Sunday one hour previous to evening service. They are uniformly well attended, and are interesting and helpful. Through its various committees it renders valuable aid to the church in all its departments of labor. It has not only greatly assisted in the growth of this church, but it has extended its labors to other fields. Sunday schools have been conducted by this society in Merrillsville, Wampsville, Lenox Basin, Oneida Valley, and on the north side of the railroad. The school last mentioned meets in the schoolhouse of that district, and there are indications manifest there which warrant us in attempting to give permanency to the work in that locality by building a chapel.
A lot for this purpose has been donated to us by C. W. Chappell and Benjamin E. Chase. It is located on North Broad Street. An effort is now being made to raise money enough to build this chapel as a memorial offering commemorative of this fiftieth anniversary of our church. This Young People's Society has already raised one hundred dollars for this purpose, and they have assumed the responsibility of carrying on this north side work. This society gave to the church the piano now used in the session room, and last year they sent fifty dollars to the Boys' Industrial School at Asheville, N. C. Its present officers are J. E. Brewer, president; Mrs. Frank Chapin, vice president; Miss Addie Rockwell, secretary; Miss Libble Ash, treasurer.
The society now has 140 active members and 35 associate members.
We have always been proud of our Sunday school. Its birth antedates that of the church by about one year, and from it the church throughout its whole existence has drawn much of its force and vitality. In 1843 it was organized and held its sessions in the reading room on Mill Street near Blodgett's Tavern.
After the church was completed in 1844 the school was removed to that building. For a number of years it was held only during the summer months. When Rev. Mr. Gregory came in 1851 we commenced holding Sunday school every Sunday of the year between the morning and afternoon service. In those days we held on church service Sunday evening. Since its first organization our Sunday school has had a steady and a healthy growth. In 1844 its membership was 35; in 1864 it was 150; in 1866 it was 190; in 1875 it was 280; at present we have on the roll a little over 400 names, and all of these have a live, active connection with the school. The present system of numbering allows of no "dead timber." We have no retired list.
The average attendance thus far in 1894 has been 326. The following persons have occupied the position of superintendent: Jeremiah Cooper, E. R. Willard, J. E. Crain, Edmund Hills, Rev. C. R. Gregory, Romain Fiske, Goodwin P. Soper (who filled the position very acceptably for more than twenty years), Alonzo Randall, Ambrose W. Hill, and Charles H. Parsons. The first assistant superintendent was Charles B. Cowles; following him came Wm. M. Baker, Howard L. Baldwin, Frank P. Klock, Miss Clara A. Parker, and Lewis Quackenbush.
The Primary Department was organized by Miss Addie E. Soper (now Mrs. L. T. Sherrill) in 1859. She was its superintendent for a number of years. Her successors in that office haven been Florence Loomis, Sarah Taylor, Mrs. I. N. Messinger, E. C. Stark, Mrs. Samuel Jessup, Mrs. Charles H. Parsons, Miss Georgie Bull. In 1892 was inaugurated the star system for encouraging regular attendance. Every class whose members are all present is allotted a star. The class receiving the most stars during the year has the banner for the succeeding year. This system is now in use with good results.
A very important branch of our school is called the Home Department, which was started July1, 1893, with a membership of forty. Mrs. Ella Holliday was its first superintendent, she serving in that position only three months when she resigned. The department began its work with eight visitors, who went from house to house to distribute Lesson Leaves, and to encourage Bible study among those who cannot attend the regular Sunday school. Each member is required to study the lesson at least thirty minutes a week. Mrs. Holliday was succeeded by Miss Clara A. Parker as superintendent.
The number of visitors is now fifteen and the membership has increased to 225, thus making our department to rank among the largest in the State, if indeed it is not now the largest.
During the nine months of its existence it has added $35.25 to the benevolent fund of the Sunday school. All this indicates good management on the part of Miss Parker and the fifteen visitors.
In 1874 a series of union revival meetings was held in the various churches of Oneida under the direction of the evangelists Rev. M. Patterson and wife. A good work was done. At the June communion following these meetings forty-one persons were received into our church. In 1877 Rev. Mr. Mingins, evangelist, conducted similar meetings, when twenty-four were received into this church
In 1884 the churches were assisted in the work by the evangelist Rev. Mr. Davidson with still greater results, as eighty persons were received into this church at its subsequent June communion. The next evangelist to labor among us was Rev. Mr. Dean, in March, 1890, at which time we also received large additions to the church.
In 1853 John Albert Winterick, a German boy, came to Oneida in search of employment. He made his home with Mr. Asel Randall (father of Alonzo). He united with this church August 30, 1855. Later manifesting a desire to enter the ministry, he was educated for that calling by this church pursuing his studies in Lafayette College and Princeton Theological Seminary. He is now pastor of a church in Geneseo, Ill. Other persons who in their younger days were with us in the Sunday school, and who became members of this church, and who went out from among us to preach the gospel or to labor as missionaries, are Rev. Willis Phelps, now pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Marengo, Ia.; Rev. Wm. S. Carter, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Waterloo, N. Y.; Rev. Edward M. Knox and his two sisters, who are home missionaries in Utah.
At a meeting of the session held September 5, 1893, Miss Henrietta Barker was appointed as Dr. Jessup's assistant in pastoral work. Miss Barker consented to serve in that position without salary.
Those of this fold who are now living may look back over the past fifty years, and rejoice in that fact that God has used this church in the accomplishment of so great a work. Beginning as we did in so small way as to numbers, having for much of the time such limited financial resources, and being in so sparsely settled a community, so circumstanced we are able to show grand results. What then, ought we not to expect from another half century's labors, entering upon it as we do so well equipped as to numbers, as to wealth, as to facilities for labor? And comparing our condition now with what it was fifty years ago, we may well ask ourselves, What will God require at our hands? May the blessing of God attend us as we go our to meet future responsibilities!
Following the history Rev. Dr. Jessup read letters from Rev. Joshua H. McIlvaine, D. D., LL. D., one of the organizers of the church; Rev. Charles E. Robinson, D. D., third pastor of the church; Mrs. Mary L. Gregory, widow of Rev. Casper R. Gregory, D. D., second pastor of the church; Revs. Albert J. Winterick, Willis B. Phelps, C. W. Livingston, E. M. Knox, all former members of the church; Rev. Albert S. Bacon, recently pastor of the Cochran Memorial Presbyterian Church at Oneida Castle; Mrs. Isabella MacDonald Alden, wife of Rev. Gustavus R. Alden, and better known as "Pansy"; and Edward B.
PRINCETON, N. J., June 6, 1894.MY DEAR DR. JESSUP:
As I wrote you, I regret extremely that I shall not be able to attend the semi-centennial of your church. For though it is fifty years since I assisted at its organization, yet I remember my visit to Oneida on that occasion with a great deal of pleasure. I was stationed in Utica at the time, to which place I had gone to found an Old School church. The controversy between the Old and New School theology ran very high in those days, and it was thought very desirable to establish Old School churches in central and western New York---"the Burnt Region," as it was called. In Utica I founded the first "Westminster" church that ever existed. At this time the Rev. Mr. Barrows was living in Utica, also the Rev. Mr. Bloodgood. The presbytery appointed us three to organize the church at Oneida. Mr. Barrows, not long afterward, died in Utica. Mr. Bloodgood removed to Michigan, where I afterward visited him for he became my very dear friend. He died some ten years ago. There was no railroad west of Utica at the time, and we three (I think the Rev. Mr. Nichols was with us) rode to Oneida in a carriage. Mr. Nichols and his wife were very amiable and pleasant people and my dear friends.
We were very agreeably entertained by the good people of Oneida, and having organized the church by the ordination and installation of the elders elect, we left it in good working order, with full promise of the prosperity it has ever since enjoyed.
J. H. McILVAINE.
To the Rev. SAMUEL JESSUP, D. D.
BEVERLY, June 9, 1894.My Dear Mrs. Jessup:
It was with sincere pleasure I read your letter this morning and thank you very much for the remembrance. It is not a possible thing for me to be with you, nor any of my family, much as I would like to. If you knew what a household name Oneida is, you would understand somewhat of the love I have for the dear church and people there, many of whom have joined my husband in the land where changes do not come.
My family is very much scattered. My daughters Mary and Anna are with me in Beverly, where we have lived since my husband's death. My daughter Edith has a college preparatory school in New York City. My three sons are out West, as also my eldest daughter, Lizzie (Mrs. Dickson), who lives in St. Paul, Minn. I suppose you know my son, Caspar R. Gregory, pastor of the Memorial Church, Wilkesbarre, Pa., joined his father two years ago last December, much lamented by his people, and a great sorrow to me. We often talked of Oneida, and he purposed at some time to visit there, although he was only four years old when we left.
I hardly think the Oneida church and people can be any more dear to the hearts of you and your husband than they were to me and mine. We loved them very dearly, and I am always on the lookout for any notice of the church and its work in the papers. A host of names crowd to mind to whom I would like to send greeting, and be assured that the Oneida church, with pastor and people, will always have a warm place in my heart.
Mary L. Gregory.
GENESEO, ILL., May 21, 1894.Dear Brother:
I was agreeably surprised to receive your letter from Oneida, which was my home for some time, and from which place I received so many kind and cheering letters in years that are past. I should esteem it a great privilege to be with you at the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of our church there, but I have to attend to important business which cannot well be postponed.
Well I remember our very plain church in Oneida, and the divine service, the Sunday school, the Bible class, and the Wednesday evening prayer meetings I attended there, not one of which was without a blessing to me. I joined the church, in the year 1854 (or 1855), under the pastorate of Rev. Caspar R. Gregory, who was a kind pastor and an affectionate friend to me so long as he lived. By his advice and frequent prayers I consulted my heart and conscience whether I was not called to prepare for the Christian ministry. Through his influence and exertions in my behalf I was taken under care of presbytery, attended the Academy of Oneida Castle, taught by Mr. Rice, later on Mr. Camp's school at Oneida Depot, as you city was then called, was aided by the Board of Education, graduated at Lafayette College, Easton, Pa., in 1859, and at Princeton Seminary, New Jersey, in 1862.
During some of my vacations I had my home in the family of Rev. Mr. Gregory. I remember that he lost a dear child, by the name of Agnes: that he had considerable trouble with an elder; that his salary, sometimes at least, was not paid promptly at all; that he had several invitations or calls to other churches, but felt it his duty to remain; that he passed through a severe sickness which lasted several months; that he complained of the poor and unhealthy condition of the parsonage, and finally built a house for himself, while the parsonage was rented to another party.
I received special favors from the families of Mr. Asel Randall, of Mr. James Stewart on the Syracuse road ("Uncle Jim"), and of Mr. Wilbur; also from other church members, whose kind favors I remember, but some of whose names I have forgotten. There have doubtless been many changes during these forty years in the church and in the membership. Many of my old familiar friends have joined the church and assemble above.
May you have a blessed anniversary, may pastor and congregation be richly blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and may many be added to the church whose names are written in heaven, is the prayer of
Albert J. Winterick.
MARENGO, IA., May 28, 1894.DEAR BROTHER JOSEPH:
Your letter of the 26th inst. came to me this A. M. You cannot regret more deeply than I do my inability to be present at the coming anniversary of your (our) church.
I became a member of that church early in the '50's---'53 or '54. While in course of preparation for the ministry, which began about the time of my union with the church, I was away from home most of the time, and was unable to identify myself with the work and interest of the home church. My earliest recollections go back to the pastorate of the Rev. James Nichols, who was the first pastor. If I mistake not, he began preaching in a little room, in what was then known as the Lyceum Building, on Madison Street, near Blodgett's Tavern, and owned by my father. My mother and my grandmother were, I think, among the charter members of the church. My earliest impressions on the subject of religion were received while attending the midweek services with my grandmother, who always took me with her, when I was but a mere child. One of those meetings I recall very distinctly. It was held, I think, in the basement of the old Franklin House, kept by Deacon Gardiner. The portion of Scripture read that evening was the first chapter of Proverbs. The closing words of that chapter took such a strong hold on my mind that I have never forgotten them. The words of the leader have long since been forgotten, if, indeed, they were noticed at all, but the words of the Book followed me and had a restraining and molding influence over me.
Of the prominent and influential members of the church in those early days I am unable to speak definitely, as I was too young to form a correct judgment, and, until converted, too thoughtless to be interested in such matters. My ideal of greatness was "Lon" Randall and "Pid" Randall and a few other big boys whose names have for the present slipped from memory. I was in the habit of looking up to them as great men, as they sat on the heavy oaken stools at the slab desks on each side of the old schoolhouse (was it made of logs or of common boards?), and we "little fellows" occupied the backless benches in the pit. I can however, recall the names and faces of Dr. Loomis and his estimable wife (long since gone to heaven), Deacon McFarland, Mr. and Mrs. Moore, Jeremiah Cooper, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Allen, John Randall, Dr. and Mrs. Fitch and very many others whom I might mention.
My earliest recollection of Rev. James Nichols is in connection with a school kept in the basement of the old Presbyterian parsonage, situated on Main Street about halfway between the old depot and the old Higinbotham place on the east side of the road. James Nichols was a thoroughly good man, very social and much beloved by his people. His wife was a noble woman, a fine scholar, and a successful teacher. It was through their influence that my thoughts were turned toward securing an education and subsequently toward the ministry. After leaving Oneida they took the management of the Temple Hill Academy at Geneseo, Livingston Co., N. Y. It was there I began my preparation for a collegiate course. It was there also I was converted and decided to enter the ministry.
Rev. C. R. Gregory was pastor at Oneida at this time. Mr. Gregory was a very precise man, a good preacher, and a good pastor. He was a man of strong convictions, and usually managed to make things go pretty much as he wanted them to. As I look back over more than a third of a century, when he was at his best, I can see him moving before my mind's eye, a frail, sickly looking man, but with a form as straight as an arrow and a steady step, and upon his countenance an expression indicative of constant mediation upon themes of high and holy character. Mr. Gregory has left the impression upon my mind that he was a truly consecrated man. Though on account of absence from home I was not permitted to be under his ministry for any great length of time, yet the influence he had over me, through his letters and counsels and acts, continued for years. I gladly rise up to-day to "call him blessed." I shall never forget a little incident that occurred soon after his coming to Oneida. He invited me and two other boys about my own age to call upon him. We went together. After talking to us kindly and faithfully we all knelt down and he prayed for each one of us by name. That thoughtful and loving act gave me a reverence for the man that ripened in later years into a warm affection.
Congratulating you all on your present happy attainment, and wishing you a continuance and multiplication of all good, here and yonder, I am, my dear brother,
W. B. Phelps.
HYATTSVILLE, MD., May 31, 1894.MY DEAR BROTHER JESSUP:
I remember with great distinctness most of my Oneida experience though more than thirty years past.
Dr. Gregory is easily recalled. He was a man of points, intense in his opinions and expressions, his likes and dislikes; a most self-respecting man, yet always a gentleman. A near neighbor for two years, often at his home, occasionally his companion in his pastoral calls, a constant attendant upon his preaching and in his Sunday school and in his Sunday school and prayer meeting, I must needs have received lasting impressions of the man. He was an enthusiast for Christ. His zeal was a consuming fire. He never seemed to lose sight of his Leader. His conversation was full of soul conversion; his study, how to save. His pen was ever on the move, writing notes to comfort this one; to entreat, encourage, or warn that one. His hand to hand efforts were something remarkable. He attributed his success largely to personal work.
And yet his sermons were much more than ordinary. He was a clear thinker, and dressed his thinking in strong yet graceful garments, though never covering the cross with rhetoric. His sermons were things to think about and often provoked most earnest conversation. He was abreast especially of the religious literature of his day, familiarizing himself with the books likely to find their way into his Sunday-school library. No doubt he would have been a rare critic of such writing.
A graduate of Princeton, almost an idolater of Dr. Charles Hodge, it is no wonder that he was uncompromisingly Calvinistic. Had he been commissioner at Washington last spring or now at Saratoga he would have treated, figuratively at least, Professors Briggs and Smith as Samuel did Agag.
This reminds me of his very decided views of the relation of the women to the prayer meeting, i.e., they must not speak or pray there. Alluding to the subject as we were once walking together he suddenly said: "But was not I in a box here at one of our meetings! You see, it was a bad night, dark and rainy. Not a man was there but myself. Mrs. Randall was there, however, and a dozen other of such saints. They always came. I waited for an elder or two, but waited in vain. I rather think the women enjoyed my embarrassment. However, I did my usual part, and then a bright thought struck me and I said, 'Ladies, we will now consider this a female prayer meeting.' Thereupon, I must confess, followed a most delightful meeting, for, truth to tell, those women could outpray all my men together."
There was no chapel at that time as I remember, the prayer meeting being held in the church, the Bible or teachers' class in the organ loft just before evening service, which Dr. Gregory always attended.
Socially Dr. Gregory had few superiors. I have seen him enter a room lined with women, so to speak. All eyes were turned upon him and there would be a felt silence that his manner and conversation might be noticed; and yet without seeming embarrassment he would "swing around the circle" with words of interest, sympathy, or bright repartee happily suited to each one. I once told him that I envied him his coolness and level-headedness. His answer was: "Naturally no bigger coward was ever born than Caspar R. Gregory. My knees often tremble when I arise to preach. At such times, if I could consistently, I would crawl into the nearest convenient hole. Of course I don't let anybody know it, though I tell you."
Dr. Gregory had a rare ear for sacred music. He was proud of his choir, as well he might be, with such singers as Miss Nellie Hand, Miss Adelaide Soper, Messrs. Randall and Barker, and some others whose names escape me, who were not made but born emphatically for a church choir---one of whom (perhaps others) has joined the choir above with her beloved pastor.
Your church and Oneida cannot know their indebtedness to this all-around man, this lover of flowers and of a refined taste in personal apparel, in art, in everything---best of all, lover of souls. How I have seen the beautiful and constant sympathy of the man in the bereavements of his people, in our own great grief over the loss of our firstborn; how he rescued from drowning a poor desperate woman and restored her to her husband; the many walks and talks we've had over the interests of the Master's Cause; the delightful week at his home in Bridgeton, N. J., where he a pastor of its largest church and overwhelmed with work, found or made time to visit; how last I saw him in Asbury Park, N. J., whither he, weary man, had fled from the burden of his professorship in Lincoln University; how a little latter came the sad word from Mrs. Gregory: "Husband has gone. His last words were, ' Let me rest. I am so weary'"---these and much more "come to me o'er and o'er." Ah well! "Servant of God, well done."
The Lord bless you and your beloved church, and some day "up yonder" yourself and Dr. Gregory and the other faithful pastors will be able to say. "Here, Lord, are we and the children thou gavest us."
C. W. Livingston.
1610 GREEN STREET, PHILADELPHIA, June 7, 1894.REV. DR. JESSUP:
DEAR FRIEND: We are sorry indeed that other engagements make it impossible for Mr. Alden and myself to enjoy the anniversary with you. I am also sorry that the special pressure of work and care just now upon me will prevent my indulging myself in any extended reminiscences of the long ago days spent in your pleasant city.
The old church and its beloved then pastor, Dr. Gregory, and its beloved choir whose leading singer has long been joining in the choir above, are among my most vivid memories. When we heard Nellie Hand sing, "Oh, that I had Wings like a Dove!" some of us could not help thinking that with such a voice the wings must but be hidden, and she used them full soon!
Aside from the choir and the pulpit, my recollections of the children of the church are perhaps the most distinct. Looking backward I find that during the intervening thirty years I have had them all stay children, and am therefore well nigh bewildered when I come suddenly upon a familiar name prefixed by "Professor," or Doctor, or some other title betokening years and dignity. An then I remember with a start that the years are passing---that I am no longer the girl teacher, Belle MacDonald, rooming in the third-story front of Oneida Seminary, but that I have actually passed the line of middle age, and that my own son graduated yesterday from the University of Pennsylvania, and that a sometime flaxen-headed, mischievous former pupil of mine in old Oneida received at the same time the august title of "Doctor of Laws!"---and that all things, everywhere, have changed!
The gray-haired men and women with whom I used to gather in the old church at Oneida have many of them long since gone to the other country. But some of the young people I knew there are still young, because they went early to the land where sight does not dim, nor step grow slow, nor hair whiten with the touch of time.
We who remain reach across the space which intervenes, and touch hearts with you in reunion, and ask for you the continued blessing of the great Head of the Church, and ask for us all that we may gather some blessed summer day to the reunion which will never be marred by time.
Isabella MacDonald Alden.
NEW HARTFORD, June 10, 1894.REV. SAMUEL JESSUP, D. D.:
DEAR FRIEND: My memory brings up the pastorate of Mr. Nichols very distinctly, and I have been living over the history of the church since I knew you were talking of this event, and I find I was associated with its interests from early childhood, as I was only seven years old when three or four of us were invited into the choir, standing on stools when we sang, and could hardly hold the tune books, except for the wire which supported the little red curtains, which were great fun to whisk about. How Mrs. Asel Randall, Mrs. Sands Higinbotham, Mrs. Breese, the Hitchcocks, and others used to manage the donation parties in the old Empire Hall! Mrs. Wilbur, the queen of all, would see that the decorations were in exact taste.
The long side pews on either side of the church were well filled. I can see them to-day. The Sunday school had some excellent teachers---Dr. and Mrs. Fitch, Mr. Fiske, Miss Mahala, Turner, Mrs. Randall, Mr. Johnson Harvey. I organized the first Primary Sunday school in our church, using the side gallery seats, in '59. Mrs. Henrietta Seelye, wife of President Seelye of Smith College, helped in gathering the little ones in. I well remember when Dr. Gregory requested the church to face the pulpit instead of the choir during the singing of the hymns, and the arguments which followed.
I can never forget the prayer meetings held in the vestibule of the church, for it was there I gave my heart to the Saviour, but it was dimly lighted with only two or three oil lamps, and a square stand was placed for the pastor to place his Bible and little brown leather-covered hymn book. Then when the organ was bought and Lyman Higinbotham asked to be organist, we felt we had made great progress. Rehearsals were had at Mrs. Goodwin's, Mrs. Dyer's, Mrs. Mannering's, at my father's, anywhere but in the choir gallery, which was never heated, except in summer time.
My dear father and mother always held the church near their hearts, and it was always their desire to do all in their power to increase its interests.
A. E. SHERRILL.
KAYSVILLE, UTAH, June 5, 1894.REV. SAMUEL JESSUP:
DEAR BROTHER: Your personal invitation as well as one from the Presbyterian Church of Oneida have both been received. I had hoped that the way might open by which I could have been present on the 13th on June and taken some part in your semi-centennial celebration. I find, however, that it will be impossible for me to come East in time. It would afford me the greatest pleasure to meet friends whose acquaintance was formed twenty-seven years ago. My people came to Oneida in 1867. I was then seventeen years of age and had only been a professing Christian one year.
Rev. Dr. Baker was pastor of the church when I joined it. I greatly enjoyed him both as a preacher and as a pastor. I wish to say that the most precious memories of my life in Oneida are associated with the lecture room of the old church on Main Street and in connection with the young people's meeting on Sunday evening preceding the preaching service. I think that it was the influence of those blessed hours which led me to think of devoting my life wholly to my Master and in the holy ministry of the glorious gospel of reconciliation. I recall with fondest recollections my Oneida schoolmates and church associates. There were the Hands, the Taylors, the Sopers, the Barnetts, the Rubys, the McGregors, the Crawfords, and many others whom it would take too much time to mention. I rejoice in both the temporal and the spiritual welfare of the Presbyterian Church of Oneida. I thank God for her grand history. She has been highly favored in her ministers and ruling elders. Such pastors as Robinson and Baker are a glory to any church. Such men as Randall and Barker are an honor to any session. God bless the present pastor and his session on this anniversary day! May the future of your church far excel the past in all spiritual power and glory! I send Christian and fraternal salutation to all the pastors and members of the grand old Presbyterian Church of Oneida! May the Lord's gracious presence be among you to-day in wonderful power, both sanctifying and saving all who in any way participate! God bless you one and all!
E. M. Knox.
SCRANTON, PA. June 11, 1894MY DEAR BROTHER:
I had hoped to be with you on your great day, but, as I wrote you, circumstances which I could not control have prevented.
As I think of you, I have in mind a very different congregation from the one that now worships in you beautiful church edifice. I see faces which are unknown to most of you. I hear voices which have been long silent. I need no phonograph to bring to me the voices of Mr. Soper, Mr. Taylor, Dr. Fitch, Dr. Loomis, Mrs. Sweatman, and many others the thought of whom stirs my heart. I should have to visit the cemetery to address the larger part of the congregation to whom I ministered, and call back Mrs. Barker with her starry eyes and beautiful voice, and Mr. Barker, faithful unto death, and dear Mr. Goodwin, who followed his star, as he used to say, the "bright and morning star," from the darkness of his doubt to the full daylight under the sun of righteousness. What prayer meetings I recall, when Mrs. Sweatman, in her pleading, laid hold of the "horns of the altar," when Mr. Turner gave his heart to Christ, and Mr. Randall and Mr. Allen and all those beloved faithful fellow-laborers worked with me to save souls and build up the Master's kingdom. Those days may seem to you now with your larger church and noble building like the days of small things, but they were delightful to us, and many a time, when the power of God was present to heal, that elongated old house, pulled out like the various slides of a spyglass, seemed to me the greatest place on earth, and the most beautiful.
I know not what of the old membership remain, but of this I am perfectly sure, that with all the grand success of the successor of Baker, Robinson, Gregory, and Nichols the few will not forget the days of prayer and praise I recall. May God bless them, and all those who form now the greater church of Oneida. I send my greeting, and bid you "all hail."
Mrs. Robinson joins me in love to you all.
CHARLES E. ROBINSON.
Mrs. Theodosia M. Foster, whose pen name, "Faye Huntington," is so familiar, read the following paper recalling the days of 1858 to 1862, which she had brought out from her "Laid Away Memories."