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      This is a brief History of the Early Baptists in Dutchess Co.New York as relating to Baptists in Shaftsbury and other areas of Vermont. 

        The Baptists came from many New England States. Many settled in Amenia, Dover and Pawling. About 1750 a group of Baptists came to the Pawling-Dover area fromSwansea, MA. Regarding the Church in Stanford, Dutchess Co.  "We had the presence and assistance of Elder Jabez Wood and Elder Robert Wheaton who were elders of the First Baptist Church in the town of Swansea in Bristol Co.,MA. " Ephraim and Comer Bullock were Pastors and later in 1806 Luman Burch was Ordained. 

        For 50 years from the first gathering of Baptist the church had organized branches in 8 different places: Kinderhook, Oswego, Nobletown, Dover, Daniel Jones', West Branch, South West Branch,and Rhinebeck.

        In the town of Dover, which was formed from Pawling, the First Baptist Church of Dover was organized in 1757 and is the oldest church in the town. At the first meeting of the Philadelphia Baptist Association held Oct 4th and 6th 1757, it was resolved: "In answer to a request from a number of inhabitants in Beekmans Precinct, it is agreed that our brethren, Mr. Miller and Mr. William Marsh visit them and give them direction....."

        Accordingly on 9th November 1757 Mr. Marsh visited South Dover and explained to the Baptiststhe nature of the Covenant. According to the History of Dover Twp the following people met with him: Samuel and Hannah Waldo, John Truesdell, Thomas Sheldon, Barabus Carpenter, Samuel Cary, Ebenezer Cole, Benjamin Sealy, Thomas Lewis, Zodak Knapp and Daniel Sheldon. On 1 Dec 1757, Ebenezer Cole was chosen as clerk. On the 4th of Jan 1758 Samuel Waldo was chosen as a Pastor and ordained by Elders Marsh and Willard. At a conference meeting 3 Sep 1758, it was voted to build a meeting house 30 by 40 feet. To see the accomplishments of this work Pelatia Ward, Manasseh Martin, Benjamin Seeley, Ebenezer Cole and Eliab Wilcox were appointed a building committee. 

        On 15th of Sep 1764 the church licensed Daniel Bronson as a local exhorter. 10 Jun 1775Agrippa Martin was licensed as exhorter. From 1757 to 1794  with Elder Waldo as pastor, 250 members were admitted by letter or baptism. 

        According to the records of the Baptist Church of Dover (now located in Wingdale) 8 Nov 1757 William Marsh was a Baptist Minister from New Jersey. Among early members were: Eliab and Jerusha Wilcox, Jedidiah Irish, David Irish and other Irish Family Members, Sarah Earl, Susanna Dolittle, Agrippa and Manassah Martin, Jonathan Waldo, Almy Stevens, Shabel Waldo, Comfort Shaw, Abel Sprague, Benjamin Stevens, Susanna Cole, Elizabeth and Samuel Knapp, Amaziah and Susanna Martin, Peter and Lucy Sheldon, Caleb Sheldon, Deborah Martin, Samuel Stevens, John, Rachel and Samuel Marsh, James and Mary Lake, Ann Nichols, Hannah and Samuel Waldo and Zadoc Knapp.

(Note: For complete lists and record see film #17625 FHL in Salt Lake City or order in branch library near you.) 

        Many of these people are found in Shaftsbury, Bennington Co.; Pittsford, Rutland Co. and Addison Co. Vermont records and further up into Mississqoui Co. Quebec settlements and in Leeds Co. Ontario. Some were Loyalists and many families were split in their loyalties. 

        Further information can be obtained from the following sources used to compile the above short history: 
 

    • The History of Baptist in Vermont by Rev. H. Crocker 
    • Baptists in Upper & Lower Canada before 1820 by Ivison & Rosser (1956) 
    • Old Dutchess Forever by Henry Noble McCracken (1956) 
    • History of Dutchess Co. New York by James H. Smith (1980) 


Submitted by Colleen Johnson