Sketch of the First Presbyterian Church of Alexandria in 1849

Church History of Alexandria New York

The First Presbyterian Church of Alexandria

Sketch of the First Presbyterian Church of Alexandria in 1849
Sketch of the First Presbyterian Church of Alexandria in 1849

The First Presbyterian Church of Alexandria was formed at Plessis, August 11, 1821, by the Rev. Nathaniel Dutton, and consisted of the following-named members: Aaron Goddard, James Carnegie, Lydia Carnegie, Elizabeth Carnegie, Cynthia Merrill, Polly Young, and Sally Hoadley. The Lord’s Supper was first administered to this little band August 12, 1821, by the pastor. David J. Weeks and Aaron Goddard were ordained elders, the former on July 4, 1824, the latter on September 5 of the same year. The succession of pastors and supplies of the church, from its organization to the present, has been as follows: Revs. William B. Stowe, G. A. Boardman, John Sessions, William Chittenden, Phineas Camp, Lewis M. Shepard, L. Wilcox, Henry Smith, C. W. Treadwell, who served the church faithfully and well for twelve years, Samuel L. Merrill, Alexander Smith, Alexander B. Williams, M. E. Grant, and the Rev. J. A. Canfield, the present incumbent.

Jason Clark was ordained an elder and appointed clerk of the board in 1833, and occupied those offices until his death in 1871. And we may here be allowed, with all due reverence, to remark that the admirable manner in which he kept the records of the church during the thirty-eight years of his clerkship entitles him, in our opinion, to the position of secretary to the recording angel in the celestial mansions above.

In 1861 the society erected a fine church building of wood, with a spiral tower, at a cost of nearly $4000. The sacred edifice was dedicated to the service of Almighty God in 1862, during the pastorate of Rev. C. W. Treadwell. It is capable of seating about 400 persons, and is perhaps the finest house of worship in the town. The present membership is 39; present elders, Egbert Ball, Benjamin Joy, Elnathan Plato, and Lyman Corlis; the latter is also clerk.

Prior to 1832 a Sunday-school was organized, of which Jason Clark was the first superintendent and remained such until his death, a period of nearly forty years. The present superintendent is Egbert Ball; number of teachers, 8; scholars, 30.

The church, during its fifty-six years’ existence, has experienced the usual vicissitudes and trials of the church militant. But it has never succumbed, and has always maintained its organization despite an impoverished treasury or a numerically small membership. It is now comparatively prosperous, and bids fair to so continue.

The Baptist Church of Redwood

The Baptist Church of Redwood, which is now the only Baptist church in the town of Alexandria, was formerly known as the ” Second Baptist Church of Alexandria.” There was, in other days (from 1830 to about 1858), a First Baptist church located in the southwest part of the town, but it has long since disappeared. The second church was organized June 7, 1832, with eleven members, namely, James Chaffin, Lind Pierce, Isaac Leonard, Alvin Maxin, Daniel Leonard, Nancy Cranck, Hannah Spearback, Drusilla H. Murray, Mary Ann Lake, Anna George, and Cynthia Leonard. They had no regular place of worship from 1832 until 1856, when their present house, of worship was built in the village at Redwood. They have had, since their organization until the present time, the ministry of seven reverend brethren as pastors, namely, Elders C. Havens, M. Wilkie, Samuel Whitney, Jesse Ager, L. Golden, G. N. Sears, and E. Edwards. L. Golden is serving this church a second time, but only temporarily. From the beginning they have had a hard struggle to maintain their existence. Their in-gatherings, as a general thing, have been a few at a time, and, in some instances, far between. Their house of worship is small, the same room being used for church and Sunday-school purposes. It is 32 by 44 feet, and will comfortably seat 200 persons. They have a good parsonage located near the church, and their entire church property is worth about $4,000. They are free from debt, and have a membership of 77.

The present church officers are, Harry Dillon, Jason Dillon, and Samuel Phillips, Deacons; Glendon S. Phillips, Church Clerk; Philip Workman, Treasurer; Henry S. White, Cyrus Linnell, and Sidney Webster, Trustees.

The Sunday-school has always been a Union school, and was organized about the year 1835. Richard Gray and Hiram Stratton were the earliest officers of whom any record remains. The school at present has about 90 teachers and scholars. Cyrus Linnell is the superintendent, assisted by L. Johnson, and George Wilson is Secretary and Treasurer. Reports as to the prosperity of the church and Sunday-school are promising.

The Church of the Thousand Islands

A Reformed Protestant Dutch church was organized at Alexandria Bay under the following circumstances. In the summer of 1846, the Rev. George W. Bethune, D.D., of Brooklyn, having occasion to spend a few days at the place, and learning that among a scattered population of 2000, on the island and main land, there was no place of worship, and few religious opportunities, except one service a month by a Methodist circuit preacher, formed the plan of organizing a church here. He called the inhabitants together and preached to them on the Sabbath, and at the close of the service he suggested to them the establishment of a Sabbath-school, promising them a supply of books for the purpose. The suggestion was complied with, a school opened, 40 or 50 scholars gathered into it, and it was kept up about a year. In 1847, Rev. Jerome A. Davenport was induced by Dr. Bethune to visit the place as a missionary, being partially supported by a few friends of the mission, until, in 1850, the care was assumed by the Board of Domestic Missions of that denomination. In the fall of 1847, Mr. Davenport raised $1275 in New York, Brooklyn, and adjacent places, and $275 from residents of the Bay. He remained three years, a considerable time abroad, soliciting aid, and in the fall of 1848 the erection of a church edifice was begun, and on the 25th of May, 1851, it was opened for worship. It is of stone, 35 by 55 feet, and has a truncated tower 60 feet high. It has a seating capacity for from 350 to 400 persons, and cost $2822, besides $170 for a bell. On the 1st of August, 1851, the church was regularly formed, Rev. Charles Wiley, D.D., being present as a committee representing the classis of Cayuga. It consisted of 13 members. Alva Ford and James Woodsworth were appointed elders and deacons, and the organization was named “the Church of the Thousand Islands.” The sites for both the church and parsonage were donated by the heirs of Depau, and in 1852 a parsonage was erected at a cost of $800.

August 1, 1850, Rev. Anson Du Bois was called to the pastorate of the church, and remained until May, 1854. He was succeeded in July of the same year by Rev. George Rockwell, who, after a faithful ministry of twenty-three years, was obliged to resign on account of extreme deafness. His successor was Rev. Henry D. Vriese, Jr., the present incumbent, who assumed the pastoral duties over the church in July, 1877. The present elders are Francis Thomson and David Woodsworth; Deacons, William Woodsworth and Isaac Everson. The membership of the church is 52; teachers and scholars in the Sunday-school, 66; Superintendent, Rev. Henry De Vriese, the pastor. The present condition of the church is flourishing.

St. Peter’s Protestant Episcopal Church

St. Peter’s Protestant Episcopal Church of Redwood was formed August 12, 1850, with Daniel Slack, A. Matthias Harrison, wardens; Richard Gray, L. W. De Zeng, Charles Clark, James Wright, and Josiah Bucklee, vestrymen. The Rev. William Allen Fisk was at that time missionary; he was succeeded by the Rev. B. W. Witcher. The last rector was the Rev. Charles A. Wenneau. A small Gothic church edifice was erected in 1851, after the designs of R. Upjohn, of New York. The church now reports 25 families, 26 communicants. The present Wardens are M. H. Smith and A. L. White; Vestrymen, H. S. White, A. A. Holmes, J. W. Reade, W. A. Failing, and C. W. Clark.

The Sunday-school has a membership of 60 scholars and 7 teachers. The present superintendent is A. L. White.

St. Francis’ Roman Catholic Church

St. Francis’ Roman Catholic Church was organized at Redwood, about 1848. Frequent applications to the pastor. Rev. M. J. Brown, and Peter Tassay, one of its earliest members, have failed to procure the necessary data for a complete historical sketch. Hence the omission.

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