History of the Churches at Sherburne New York

The Duanesburgh colonists who settled this town arrived on the afternoon of Saturday, in March, 1793, and the second Sabbath following their arrival they met and inaugurated religious services which have been continued to the present time. July 6, 1794, Nathaniel and Bethiah Gray, Elijah and Sarah Gray, Abraham and Betsey Raymond, Timothy and Ruth Hatch, Elisha and Patience Gray, Josiah Lathrop, Eleazer Lathrop, Mabel, wife of Newcomb Raymond, Ruth, wife of Joel Hatch, Melissa, wife of James Raymond, and Ezra Lathrop and Mariam, his wife, were formed into a church by Rev. Mr. Campbell, a missionary, and denominated the First Congregational Church in Sherburne. (It is erroneously claimed that this was the first church organized in the county.) Nathaniel Gray and Abraham Raymond were chosen deacons. The former was the generally acknowledged father of the church. For thirteen years he was their leader and minister, except on occasions when missionary help was present, which was very seldom.

At an early day a large and commodious school house was built in the Quarter and was ordinarily used by this church as a place of worship. In 1803 a church edifice was built on what was then called “Robinson Hill,” and though unfinished was used for religious purposes. It was soon felt that the location did not accommodate a majority of the people, and accordingly the work of moving it was commenced in the spring of 1810. When it arrived at the Quarter a delegation of people forbid its being taken any further south, and the opposition was so strong that it stood there upon its rollers till the autumn of that year. The village people refused to do anything unless it was moved to the village. It was finally agreed to move it to where it now stands, about midway between the Quarter and the village, Who the increasing demand for a church in the village a site was bought in 1856 and the present church edifice erected the following year. It was dedicated in 1858. About this time the old church, with its historic associations, was sold to the Catholics.

The first minister employed by the people was Rev. Nathan B. Darrow, who labored with them about a year; but they had no settled pastor previous to 1806. During these early years the church was supplied occasionally by missionaries from eastern churches.

The society connected with this church was organized March 15, 1798, as The First Congregational Society of Sherburne, and Joel Northrup, Abraham Raymond, John Gray, Nathaniel Austin, Ely Marsh and Orsamus Holmes were elected trustees.

The following have been successive pastors of this church, and those whose names are marked with a * were installed:–

Rev. Roger Adams * from August, 1806-00
” Abner Benedict * ” ” 1811-13
” John Truair * ” ” 1815-20
” I. N. Sprague * ” June 7, 1825-34
” Henry Snyder ” —–
” George E. Delavan * ” 1837-40
” Mr. Blodgett ” —–
” J. C. Brown * ” 1842-43
” A. C. Tuttle * ” 1844-53
” Oliver Bronson ” —–
” A. McDougall * ” Feb., 1854-60
” E. Curtiss ” 1860-67
” Samuel Miller ” 1867-74
” James Chambers ” August, 1875—-

There have gone from this church eleven licensed preachers, viz: Eleazor Lathrop, Watson Adams, L. S. Rexford, William Robinson, N. Smith, B. Gray, J. W. Fox, S. Carver, J. Copeland, H. Lee and S. Curtis. It sent to the foreign field one female missionary, Mrs. Amelia Little, daughter of William Newton, who died suddenly before entering upon her expected labors. Sept. 12, 1879, W. N. Chambers was ordained by this church and set apart to the foreign missionary work.

The number of members Aug. 31, 1879, was, males 95, females 148, total 243. The number of families in the congregation was 120; the number in Sabbath school, of which H. F. Dunham is superintendent, 150; the value of the church, $8,000, and parsonage, $2,000.

The contributions of the church to benevolent causes during the year was as follows:–

Home Missions $211.15
American Missionary Association 115.51
A. B. C. F. M. 448.83
American Congregational Union 35.94
Other Charities 107.92

Total $919.35

During Rev. Amos C. Tuttle’s pastorate the antislavery excitement culminated and about forty who favored the abolition of slavery, withdrew from the church and formed The Free Church of Sherburne, commonly known as the “Abolition Church,” which had an existence of only three or four years.

The Baptist Church of Sherburne.–The Baptists residing in Sherburne village and vicinity commenced holding meetings in the academy in that village in March, 1836, and employed Mr. Ewell, a student of Hamilton Theological Seminary, to preach for them.

July 2, 1836, they convened in the academy for the purpose of forming a church conference. A. H. Burlingame was chosen moderator and E. C. Wheeler clerk. A church covenant was adopted and signed by Charles Lewis, John Benton, Willard Stebbins, Ezra Race, Sylvester Benton, Carloss Benton, Horace Eaton, Hendrick Bresee, E. C. Wheeler, Calvin Locke, H. B. Hale, John Benton, Jr., Clarissa Eaton, Mary Bresee, N. J. Benton, Sophronia Benton, Amy Foster, Jane Wheeler, Deborah Lewis, Elizabeth Lewis. Susannah Rogers, P. B. Reynolds, Betsey Race, Eleanor Locke, Abigail Stebbins, Maria Shaw and (???) Marsh, who, having received the consent of their respective churches, were constituted members of this. July 16, 1836, articles of faith were adopted. Oct 7, 1836, a council convened in the Congregational church, and after some alterations and additions to their articles of faith and covenant, admitted them to church fellowship. Elder J. S. Swan was appointed to preach the introductory sermon, Elder A. Wheelock, to address the church, and Elder J. Corwin, to present the right hand of fellowship.

Nov. 12, 1836, Elder J. Corwin performed the rite of baptism on Betsey Benton and Fanny Stafford, and broke bread to the church for the first time.

The church was incorporated as the Sherburne Village Baptist Society, Dec. 3, 1836, and Willard Stebbins, Charles Lewis, Horace Eaton, Ezra Race and Ira Wright were elected trustees.

Their church edifice was commenced in 1837 and finished in 1838, at a cost of about $2,300. Services were held previous to that time in the academy. April 23, 1837, C. H. Slafter was hired to preach for eighteen shillings per Sabbath. March 31, 1838, it was voted to hire Daniel H. Gillette for the year. He was dismissed May 19, 1839. August 25, 1839, it was voted to extend a call to E. E. L. Taylor for one year, at a salary of $300, his salary to commence when he was ordained and devoted his whole time to the church. He commenced his labors the first Sabbath in August, 1839. March 15, 1840, a call was given Rev. S. P. Way, who commenced his labors March 22, 1840. Aug. 22, 1841, it was voted to call Elder Crain, but the records do not show whether he accepted. Dec. 6, 1842, it was voted to invite Rev. Alba Gross to preach the ensuing year, commencing the second Sabbath in December, 1842. Charles B. Post was ordained pastor of this church Dec. 3, 1845. Aug. 12, 1848, it was voted to call Leonard Ilsley to ordination. Rev. Nelson Mumford became the pastor in the early part of 1849. He labored with them five years. Nov. 25, 1854, the church resolved to make an effort to secure the services of Rev. S. M. Ferguson, who served them till 1856. After Mr. Ferguson left the pulpit was supplied mostly by students from Hamilton till March, 1858, when a call was given Rev. J. M. Ferris, who commenced his labors as pastor the first Sabbath in April. His resignation was accepted Dec. 22, 1858. The pulpit seems to have been supplied by students from this time till March 19, 1862.

July 26, 1862, the Church voted to call Rev. T. K. Brownson to the pastorate. August 20, 1864, the committee were instructed to engage Elder Jones to supply the pulpit one-half time for the present. Feb. 19, 1867, voted to invite Rev. A. M. Bennett to continue as pastor for one year from the succeeding April. Elder Brown commenced a brief pastorate April 1, 1869. Rev. J. L. Bennett became the pastor some time in 1870. His resignation was accepted Jan. 31, 1872.

Rev. D. D. Brown succeeded Mr. Bennett in the pastorate some time in 1872. He united with the church by letter in October of that year, and was dismissed by letter September 28, 1873. He was followed, but at what time does not appear, by D. P. Pope, who was ordained by this church September 15, 1874. He remained but a short time however. The present pastor is George Burnside, who became the settled pastor in 1876, but had supplied the pulpit for two years previously while living at Earlville.

In the summer of 1876 the church was repaired at a cost of about $1,500. Meetings were held in the meantime in the Universalist church. In 1877, a rear addition was built at like cost.

The present number of members is 193; the average attendance at Sabbath school, 130.

The church has licensed one person to preach–Thomas Dunham, April 8, 1843. The following named persons have been elected deacons: Solomon VanWagner and Charles Lewis, October 7, 1836; Ezra I. Race, October 13, 1849; Joseph Smith; Orrin Hendee, January, 1871; Isaac Heady, November, 1872; Cyrus Merrihew, (for one year) Oct. 12, 1878.

The First Society of the M. E. Church in Sherburne Village was organized at the village school-house March 4, 1839. Elders James P. Backus, and Ebenezer Coleson were then the ministers in charge of the society and were chosen to preside at this meeting. Alfred Skinner, Silas Ames, Solomon Cushman, Gray P. Beers and Nathan T. Geere were elected trustees. How early the Methodists in Sherburne became an organized force we are unable to state. An organization was effected March 6, 1834, under the ministry of B. G. Paddock, named The First Society of the M. E. Church in Sherburne, and Hermon VanVleck, Benjamin Eaton, Cyrus M. Dow, Joseph Sexton, and Alfred Skinner were elected trustees; but it seems to have had but an ephemeral existence.

March 18, 1839, Alfred Skinner, Silas Ames and Garry P. Beers were chosen a building committee. Their house of worship seems to have been built that year, for Dec. 18, 1839, it was resolved to rent for one year “one-half the slips in the chapel.” Feb. 13, 1877, it was decided to repair the church and add a session room, and $4,461.17 was raised for that purpose.

May 6, 1873, it was resolved to purchase of Daniel and Palmer Newton, Silas and John Ames and A. Cook what was known as the “parsonage property,” and May 14, 1873, the whole amount was pledged.

The records of the society are meager, and do not show the succession of pastors.

The Berean Society of Universalists in Sherburne was organized Aug. 25, 1849, at a meeting of the friends of Universalism, convened in the brick school-house, situated east of the academy in the village of Sherburne, which had been previously purchased by them to be used as a house of worship. Rev. James S. Sherburne was appointed moderator, and Isaac Plumb secretary. Prayer was offered by Rev. Alfred Peck, after which Rev. C. L. Shipman presented for consideration the draft of a constitution, which, after some discussion, was adopted. E. S. Lyman was then elected clerk, and Labin Howard, Alberto Sabin and Hiram Briggs, trustees. It was resolved to request the fellowship of the Chenango Association of Universalists and Rev. J. S. Sherburne and E. S. Lyman were appointed delegates to represent this society at the next meeting of the Association.

Jan. 8, 1853, Isaac Plumb was elected clerk, a position which he has held to the present time.

In April, 1856, the society purchased the edifice owned by the Free Church of Sherburne for $900, and in the same month and year they sold to Linus R. Hopson for $240, the house and site they had till then occupied. In 1877, the church was repaired at an expense of $1,476.34, and was rededicated Aug. 22 and 23, 1877, Rev. Daniel Ballou preaching the dedicatory sermon.

Previous to June, 1879, no church but simply a society organization existed. At that time thirty-eight individuals, “feeling that church organization and membership are important helps to purer lives, signified their desire to form such a relation in a Universalist church in Sherburne.”

July 12, 1879, Vashti Brooks and Jennie O’Brien were baptized by immersion by Rev. Daniel Ballou. This is the first baptism recorded in the church. July 13, 1879, the first observance of communion is recorded, Albert C. Parker and T. G. Lamb, “acting as stewards and deacons.”

August 24, 1879, the church adopted a constitution and by-laws, and a confession of faith and covenant. Article 1 of the constitution denominates it the First Universalist Church of Sherburne.

The present number of members is about fifty.

The following have been the pastors. Those whose names are italicized were settled as such: Revs. Tomlison, Shipman, Cargill, Gilman, Robert, Queal, B. S. Hobbs, Payne, Austin, Porter, E. M. Lester, F. B. Peck, Boughton, A. G. Clark, Cone, Wm. DeLong, Daniel Ballou, James Ballou, T. D. Cook, Lansing, Bennett and Canfield.

Christ’s Church in the Village of Sherburne, (Episcopal,) was organized at a meeting held in the school-house in Sherburne village June 7, 1828, over which Rev. Russel Wheeler presided. Thomas Kershaw and H. N. Fargo were elected wardens, and Asa Foote, Reuben Davis, Amasa Skinner, Alexander Holmes, Alson Upham, Peter I. Davidson, David Skinner and Jonathan Thayer, vestrymen. The first male members were Thomas Kershaw, H. N. Fargo, Amasa Skinner, Asa Foote and Ezra Griffin.

Their church edifice was built in 1831, at a cost of about $2,500, including bell. Among the contributions toward that object were $500 each from Trinity Church, New York, and John Watts, of that city, and $100 each from Amasa Skinner, Thomas Kershaw and H. N. Fargo.

The first rector was Rev. Edward Andrews, who was engaged to officiate one-fourth of the time for one year, from Sept. 1, 1828. In 1832, Rev. John W. Woodward supplied the parish one-half of the time. In August of that year Rev. Liberty A. Barrows was employed as rector one-half of the time. By a subsequent arrangement he continued to serve the parish until 1838, when he resigned. He was succeeded in January, 1838, by Rev. Thomas J. Ruger, who occupied the pulpit six months. In June, 1839, Rev. Thomas Towel filled the vacancy. In February, 1842, Rev. Liberty A. Barrows was re-called, and continued till 1846, when he resigned. In May, 1846, Rev. W. D. Wilson became the rector and continued such until 1850. He was succeeded May 8, 1850, by Rev. Levi H. Corson, who remained four years. During his rectorship, June 19, 1850, the records of the church and Society were burned. The foregoing facts were mostly gathered by him. Rev. Thomas Applegate succeeded to the rectorship in July, 1854, and resigned Oct. 1, 1855. Rev. G. L. Foote commenced a two years’ rectorship April 1, 1856. In May, 1858, Rev. Joshua L. Burrows became the rector and served them as late as 1862. During the first year of his rectorship the church numbered 70 communicants, and 58 families, containing 130 adults and 50 children.

This sketch is prepared from Hatch’s History of the Town of Sherburne and the Record of the Incorporation of Religious Societies in Chenango County, the latter of which corrects some errors contained in the former. We have not been able to learn the subsequent history of the church.

St. Malachi Church, (Catholic,) at Sherburne, was organized about 1858, by Father Brady, who died in Norwich about 1861. Their house of worship was purchased in that year of the Congregational Society for the sum of $800. It was refitted and afterwards repaired during Father McNulty’s pastorate.

The mission at Sherburne was established about 1847, by Father James Hourigan, now of Binghamton, who officiated as pastor about two years. He was succeeded by Father Roach, who served them a like period; and Father McCallan, who continued his labors with them till 1854, since which time they have been ministered to by the priests who have officiated at Hamilton. They have never had a resident pastor. They have about 350 members. Their church edifice was dedicated in 1858, by Cardinal John McClosky, then Bishop of Albany.

Smith, James H. History of Chenango and Madison Counties, New York. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co. 1880.

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