FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN COPAKE
By Capt. Franklin Ellis213
About the year 1832 the Methodists of this town began to hold a series of "grove-meetings" in several different places in the southwest part of Copake and in the northern part of Ancram. One of the places of meeting was near the residence of George Niver. In the summer or fall of that year a class was formed, consisting of a dozen or more members, by the efforts of Revs. Richard Hayter and Edward S. Stout. At the next meeting of conference these gentlemen were appointed as preachers at this place, it then being an appointment on the Hillsdale circuit. The grove-meetings were continued during the summer of 1833, and resulted in quite an extensive revival of religion, which added a considerable number to the church, and so strengthened it in numbers, influence, and resources that steps were taken to secure the erection of a house of worship. As a preliminary step, due notice being given, a meeting was held "at the barn of Peter Miller," on the 19th of June, 1834, to incorporate the society. William T. Trafford and John Shaver, Jr., presided, and John Porter, John Shaver, Jr., George Niver, William T. Trafford, and Richard I. Vosburgh were elected trustees.
A subscription was raised and the first church was built at the upper or eastern corners, on lands donated by Elisha Wilcox, some time in this or the next year, 1834 or 1835. It was a plain building without tower or belfry, and cost about $2000. It was used till the new church was built, and was then sold for $400 or $500, and removed to the lower corners, where it was converted into, and has since been used as, a store. It is believed that this church was dedicated by Rev. Joseph B. Wakeley. The second or present church was built in the fall and winter of 1853-54, during the pastorate of Rev. Marvin R. Lent, and was dedicated by Rev. Joseph B. Wakeley, then of New York, in the following spring. This church was built by Jude Snyder, in the burying-ground, and cost about $3500. It will comfortably seat about three hundred and fifty persons.
Soon after, a parsonage was purchased of a Mr. Brown, at a cost of about $1400. It is still owned by the church and used for a ministerial residence. The present valuation of the entire church property is about $4000.
The trustees before named and John Williams, together with their several wives, were among the first members of the church. George Niver and Wm. T. Trafford were the first class-leaders.
The present officers are Darius Van Deusen, John P. Bain, William Northrop, James Peck, Ward Van De Bogart, John Lyke, Henry Lloyd, Charles Lloyd, Norman Decker, stewards; the six first named, Henry Niver, Ambrose Williams, Wesley Holsapple, trustees; William Northrop, Henry Lloyd, class-leaders. The membership is two hundred and ten, fifty-five of that number being probationers.
The ministers who have preached at this church, and all of whom, with the exception of the seven first named, have been regularly stationed here, are as follows, viz.:
Revs. Richard Hayter, Edward S. Stout, S. L. Stillman, D. B. Ostrander, J. Carley, W. Lull, Charles C. Keyes, D. B. Osborn, W. Lull, A. Bushnell, Jr., Alonzo G. Shears, David Holmes, David Plumb, Levi Warner, Matthew Van Deusen, William Gothard, Aaron Hunt, Jr., Loren Clark, L. Mc K. Pease, Loyal B. Andrus, Jeremiah Ham, Aaron Hunt, Jr., Cyrus G. Prindle, Marvin R. Lent, Isaac H. Lent, Alpheus C. Gallahue, C. Fuller, Charles Gorse, Loyal B. Andrus, B. M. Genung, Marvin R. Lent, Isaac H. Lent, Thomas Ellis, J. H. Phillips, J. G. Slater, and J. H. Michell, the present pastor, who is now serving in his third year.
The Sabbath-school in connection with this church is in a prosperous condition, having a membership of one hundred and seventy, and a library of about four hundred volumes. The officers are Rev. J. H. Michell, superintendent; William Northrop, assistant superintendent; Charles Burroughs, secretary; John Lyke, treasurer; Charles Roberts, librarian.