THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF HILLSDALE
by Captain Franklin Ellis9
This church, known more generally at the present time as the "East Baptist Church, " was organized May 28 1787, by Revs. John and Stephan Gano. There were fourteen persons who entered into covenant and constituted the society. They were James and Phoebe Martin; Caleb, Jr., and Anna Woodward; William, Jr., and Rosannah West; Ambrose and Joanna Latting; Griffin and Anna Wilde; Ruth Jordan, Esther Terry, Lucy Loop, Sarah Martin.
The first church-meeting was held June 23, 1787, and James Martin was elected deacon and Ambrose Latting church clerk. The first church was built on the three corners, near the present residence of G. F. Stickle, by Ambrose Latting, who agreed to finish it on the outside and wait on the church till they were able to pay for it. This was done, and the church was finally finished off in 1798. Its entire cost is supposed to have been about $800. The work of finishing was done by Albert Foster, for L65. A church was also built in the west part of the town, on the site of the present West church, and this became to property of the second church in 1803, when a division occurred, and the West church was formed. This building was erected some time between 1792 and 1802, but the date and cost are not now known. At a later date the church united with the Methodists in the erection of a house of worship, in the northwest part of the town, near the Downing place, which was sold about 1841-42. the second house of worship in the central part of the town was a Union church, owned in connection with the Methodists. This was torn down, and the present edifice erected in the summer and fall of 1839. The dedication occurred on the 27th of November of that year. This building cost $5000. A parsonage was built in 1835, and this having been disposed of, in 1844 another one was procured. The present valuation of the entire church property is $4000.
The church became incorporated in 1838. The first trustees were elected previously, in 1835, and were Thomas Palmer, John Tyler, Amos Knox, William Knox. Commencing with fourteen members, the church grew in numbers, until, in 1817, there were one hundred and ninety-two members, which is the highest number yet attained. The largest increase in any one year was sixty-six, in 1817. In the fall of 1837 there was an extensive work of grace, by which forty-three were added to the church; and again, in November, 1842, over thirty were baptized and received into fellowship.
At different times the church has licensed some of its members to preach the gospel. Among them were Charles Truesdell, Lyman Palmer, Rodney Gilbert, and Albert Knox. One of these, Lyman Palmer, was ordained to the work of the ministry on the 20th of February , 1845. The ordination was an interesting occasion, and the meeting lasted two days. The ordination sermon was preached by Rev. John E. La Grange, from 2d Corinthians iv. 7: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." Revs. H. L. Gros, M. L. Fuller, Stephen Jones, H. Cornwell, B. C. Crandall, S. Hatch, L. Sellick, J. W. Starkweather also participated in the ceremonies of the occasion.
The deacons have been James Martin, Ambrose Latting, Squire Sherwood, William West, Samuel West, Oliver Teall, Martin Spencer, John Tyler, Thomas Palmer, Matthew Palmer, Major M. Bullock, Hiram S. Brown, Warren G. Wiley, Nathaniel House, Orville McAlpine. Major M. Bullock and Orville McAlpine are the present deacons.
The ministers who have sustained pastoral relations with the church are Revs. Stephen Gano, Abel Brown, Samuel S. Mallory, John D. Hart, Enos Marshall, Samuel Wood, Philip Roberts, Horace Spencer, Peter Prink, John E. La Grange, Stephen Jones, O. H. Capron, Eli W. Brownell, Samuel Pomeroy, Ethan Palmer, Henry F. Cochrane, Edwin Beardsley, C. F. Duganne. Revs. ------ Bates, ----- Ferris, and Lyman Palmer also preached for the church at different times. At Present the church is not supplied with a pastor. The present trustees are George M. Bullock, Grosvenor A. Knox, and D. C. Palmer. Ezra J. Beardsley is the church clerk.
In the ninety years of its existence the church has inscribed upon its rolls the names of seven hundred and two individuals, of whom one hundred and forty-three have been removed by death, and three hundred and fifty-six have been dismissed by letter. The present membership is about forty-five.
In June, 1803, a division occurred, growing out of a difference of opinion in a case of discipline, and thirty-five members withdrew and formed the "West Church." In 1806 the society in the northwest, part of the town, known as the Second Baptist church of Hillsdale, abandoned their separate organization; and in a body--twenty-six in number--united with this church.
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