HARLEMVILLE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
by Captain Franklin Ellis15
Previous to the year 1822 stated religious meetings were held in the vicinity of Harlemville in barns, school-houses, and private dwellings. About 1822 a class was formed, among whom we find were Zedick Knapp, Eben Mallery, Eben Soule, William Sawyer, Abraham Winn, Daniel Downing, David Downing, Elias Downing, John Richmond, Peleg Richmond, Perez Richmond, George Richmond, Harry Richmond, Martin Spencer, Martin Terry, and Thomas Palmer.
The funeral of Presiding Elder Moriatty, who died very suddenly on Friday morning previous to an appointed quarterly meeting, was held in the barn of Daniel Downing, one of the oldest Methodists of this vicinity.
In the year 1822 the first church was built, on lands donated for the purpose by Stephen Richmond. It was built by Alexander Rowley, and stood about two miles east of Harlemville. It was a Union church, owned in part by the Baptists, and was called the "Downing Church." It was a frame building, thirty-six by forty feet, and cost about $1000. The dedication was held in the fall of 1822, the ceremonies being conducted by Rev. George Coles.
The society became incorporated Jan. 4, 1854, at a meeting presided over by Aaron Hunt, Jr., and Joseph Richards. The first board of trustees elected at that meeting consisted of Messrs. Ebenezer Goodsell, George W. Richmond, Philip Wiltsie, Joseph P. Downing, Riley S. Palmer, Ira Palmer, and William D. Mercer.
During the following summer a Methodist Episcopal church was built in Harlemville. It was thirty-two by forty-six feet, cost about $2500, and was dedicated in the fall of 1854, by Rev. Lucius H. King. The building committee was Messrs. Fayette M. Blunt, Riley S. Palmer, William D. Mercer. Richard Simmons was the builder. This church is still in use by the society.
From a diligent search of the records, and from the recollection of members of the society, we are able to give the following list of ministers who have acted as pastors of this church. They were Revs. Lewis McK. Pease, D. Starks, Arnold Scholefield, Phineas Rice, ----- Griffin, Edward S. Stout, Adee Vial, George C. Bancroft, John Campbell, Denton Keeler, John Davies, David Hervy, Jr., Aaron Hunt, Jr., David Lyman, James Y. Bates, De Loss Lull, Amos N. Mulnix, Oscar Haviland, Edward Ashton, D. Gibson, J. O. Kern, J. H. Lane, and E. B. Pierce.
At the old "Downing church" Elders Abel Brown and ----- Leland, ministers of the Baptist denomination, frequently preached. The latter was quite eccentric in his ways. It is told of him that he once, when over eighty years of age, prefaced his sermon by quoting the familiar lines,---
"You'd scarce expect one of my age
To speak in public on the stage," etc.
David Wager, of Ghent, and three men of the name of Soules, were local preachers, and often officiated at the meetings.
A very extensive revival occured under the preaching of Rev. Elbert Osborn in 1831 or 1832, and another in 1845, under the ministry of Rev. Adee Vail. the present number of communicants is eighty, and the following are the present officers, viz.: George W. Downing, Davis Disbrow, Jacob Hess, Norman Becker, Isaac Coons, Wesley Hogeboom, Madison Downing, trustees; Joseph P. Downing, Wesley Hogeboom, Isaac Coons, William Washburn, stewards; Joseph P. Downing, class-leader. The Sabbath-school was organized in 1823 or 1824, with Abraham Winn as superintendent.
The present officers are James R. New, superintendent; Mrs. F. A. Mercer, assistant superintendent; T. Dean Secretary; Norman Becker, Treasurer; Wesley Hogeboom, Mrs. F. a. Mercer, Sunday-school committee; J. P. Downing, D. Vincent, C. Vincent, Sarah Krum, Mrs. Norman Becker, Mrs. William Washburn, Mrs. Davis Disbrow, Mrs. I. Downing, teachers. The present membership of scholars is one hundred.
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