From the last date till December, 1868, the church was destitute of a pastor, but not destitute of revival interest, as several were converted and added to the church. At that time, S. S. White became pastor, closing in April, 1871. During the winter of 1870 and 1871 the church was refreshed, and nine were added by baptism. From April, 1871, to June, 1872, they were without a regular preacher, but were supplied at intervals. During this time they repaired their house of worship at an expense of about $1500. In June, 1872, John A. Rich became pastor and continued in that relation till September, 1873. He was succeeded in February, 1874, by A. J. Walker, who preached two years. During Mr. Walker's pastorate twenty-six were added to the church. The present pastor, Wm. Beavins, commenced his labors in April, 1876. Since 1802, there have been added to this church, by baptism, four hundred ; eight have been licensed to preach, the most of whom were subsequently ordained, and eight have been called to the deacon's office, two of whom still remain to serve the church, viz.: — John Goodnow and Joseph Morse. James Charter, formerly deacon in a Baptist church at Somerville, Mass., has acted in that capacity in this church since 1870.
The present society was organized in 1825. That Universalism existed in town, in an organized form, at a much earlier period, however, is shown by the following extract from the first volume of town records:
"NEWFANE, AUGUST YE 14, 1787.
This may certify all persons whom it may concern that the following persons, whose names are herein inserted, are professors of the doctrine of Universal Salvation by
Jesus Christ, and are constant attenders to hear the preaching of the same, and also do contribute to support the preaching of that doctrine, viz.:
Tilley Wilder, Ebenezer Robinson,
Ebenezer Ober, John Pike,
Benjamin Fuller, Asa Houghton,
Ephraim Fuller, Joseph Wilder,
Abel Fuller, Edward Smith,
Thomas Higgins, Jr., Stephen Fuller,
All belonging to Newfane.
Witness our hands,
THOMAS BARNS, Teacher in said Society,
EDWARD Smith, Society Clerk."
It also appears, from the same source, that there was inserted in the warrant for the annual March meeting, in 1820, an article which reads as follows:
"8th. To see if said Town will vote to permit the Universalists to occupy the Meeting House four Sabbaths in each year;" which article, according to the record of the meeting, it was voted to dismiss. These extracts, together with recollections by our older inhabitants of occasional preaching in school-houses and halls, constitute all the information that we now have relative to the history of this denomination in town prior to 1825. In November, 1825, a new society was organized by Charles Hudson, under the name of "The First Restorationist Society in Newfane," the constitution being signed by Josiah Taft and seventy others. In regard to the early preachers of the society, and their terms of service, the records give but little information, and the recollections of the older members are alike indefinite and conflicting. It seems to be agreed, however, that Jonathan Whitcomb was the first regular minister, but there is nothing to indicate the dates of the commencement and expiration of his term. At the annual meeting of the society, November 23, 1827, it was Voted that the Committee should hire Mr. Wm. S. Balch to preach one-fourth of the Sabbaths in eight months, to commence in March or April, on condition that Mr. B. does not want more than five dollars per Sabbaths, and his boarding." From information received from Mr. Balch, it
seems that he preached his first sermon in Newfane, and the fifth in his ministry, at the schoolhouse in Williamsville, September 23, 1827, and, occasionally, at other places in town till the following April, at which time he commenced a regular engagement with the society for one-half the time, which was continued till November 15, 1829. From the latter date to 1836 the society was supplied for short periods by A. L. Pettee, — Maynard, Matthew Hale Smith, and others, but was destitute of preaching the greater portion of the time. Otis Warren became pastor in 1836, which relation he occupied till 1859, with the exception of a portion of 1858, when, during his illness and absence from town, the pulpit was supplied by Warren Bassett.
At a meeting of the society, held December 10, 1839, it was voted that the old constitution be considered null and void, and a new constitution was adopted, under the name of "The First Universalist Society of Newfane."
W. W. Hayward was preacher in charge from May, 1860, to March, 1862 ; M. B. Newell from June, 1862, to June, 1863; and Joseph Barber during the summer of 1865, from which time till the summer of 1871, the society was wholly destitute of preaching. In 1870 the meeting house at Williamsville — the portion of which belonging to the Williams estate having become the property of the society — was extensively repaired, and was dedicated June 28, 1871, as a Universalist house of worship. N. C. Hodgden was preacher from July, 1871, to September, 1872 ; D. C. White from the latter date till the spring of 1874. From the close of Mr. White's term the pulpit was supplied by different persons till October, 1874, at which time Mrs. R. A. D. Tabor commenced her labors, which were terminated in April, 1876.
The pulpit is supplied at the present time, September, 1876, by T. B. Gregory, a student from the theological seminary at Canton, N. Y.
Most of the public services of the society, prior to 1836, were held at Fayetteville, at first in the court house, but in the Union church after its dedication in 1832. From 1836 to 1854, the time of the preacher was divided between the two
villages, meetings being held one-half the time in each, respectively. During the latter year regular services by this society were discontinued at Fayetteville, but have been sustained at Williamsville with the exception of the period from 1863 to 1871, to the present time.
Methodism never obtained a very enduring foothold in this town. It has been many years since the denomination has been able to support preaching here with any degree of constancy. There was once an organized society, however, possessing, for a while, considerable strength. It was formed in 1830, under the direction of Guy Beckley and James M. Fuller, members of the Vermont Conference, who, for about two years, divided their time between Fayetteville, Williamsville and Wardsboro. They were succeeded in this town, in 1832, by Wm. H. Hodges, who preached at the two villages, alternately, most of the time till 1838. Then followed Elder Guernsey, till May, 1839, after which time, till 1848, the society was destitute of preaching, with the exception of occasional supplies. E. B. Morgan was stationed at Williamsville, by Conference, in 1848, followed by John A. Wood in 1850, O. S. Morris in 1851 and '52, C. D. Ingraham in 1853, and Simeon Spencer in 1862. In addition to the above, the society was often supplied by local preachers, for short lengths of time. The public services of the society were held, at Fayetteville, in the Court House and in Union Church; at Williamsville, in Wm. H. Williams' hall, and afterward in the church, a half interest in which, until its sale to the First Universalist Society in 1868, was controlled by this denomination.