Champion, Jefferson, NY

Churches, Part I

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The first regular religious organization in the county is believed to have been formed in this town in June, 1801, by the Rev. Mr. Bascomb, who was sent out on a missionary tour by the Ladies’ Charitable Society of Connecticut, and on that date formed a Congregational Church. The members that first composed it were small, and only occasional preaching was enjoyed until 1807, when the Rev. Nathaniel Dutton was ordained. There were present on this occasion the late Rev. Dr. Norton, of Clinton, New York, Mr. Eels, of Westmoreland, and one or two others. Mr. Dutton maintained for over forty years the pastoral relation with the church, and became in a great degree identified with the religious movements, not only of the town but county, and was instrumental in effecting numerous church organizations in this section. The following notice, published soon after his death, was written by the Rev. David Spear, of Rodman, who, for a period quite as long, has labored in the ministry at that place, and whose opportunities for knowing the character and worth of the subject of the notice were most ample:

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"Died in Champion, New York, September 9, 1852, Rev. Nathaniel Dutton, aged seventy-three years, the first settled minister in Jefferson County. His parents live in Hartford, Vermont. The son, having become pious in early life, devoted himself to the work of the ministry, graduated at Dartmouth in 1802, studied theology under Dr. Lyman, of Hatfield, commenced preaching in 1805, under the approval of the Hampshire Association, was sent by the Hampshire Missionary Society to labor in the Black River country, and in 1807 was installed pastor of the First congregational church in Champion.

"For several years there was almost a continuous revival among his people, with constant accessions to the church. In 1817 he ? , needed a general revival, which in a few months added 168 members to his church. Abundant as were his pastoral duties, he frequently visited destitute regions around him, to preach the Word, and to administer the ordinance, and to organize churches. He also made himself useful by directing the studies of the young men preparatory to their college course. But few have performed more labor, or daily exhibited more of the fruits of righteousness. His uniformly pious and consistent life gave great weight to his pulpit and other instructions. He was a scribe well instructed, rooted and grounded in the doctrines of the Bible, and a firm believer in the form of church policy he inherited from his Puritan ancestors. He resided with his people forty-six years; and, although the pastoral relation was dissolved several years before his decease, he ever cherished towards them the tenderest sympathy and most affectionate regard. He never ceased his efforts to win souls to Christ till compelled by disease. The Congregational Churches of Carthage and Philadelphia will long remember his faithful labors among them in his declining years. The consociation to which he belonged have lost a friend and counselor and a venerated father. His last sickness was short but distressing, which he bore with Christian patience and submission. He died in the full hope of a glorious immortality. ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.’"

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A convention of ministers and churches assembled at Champion September 22, 1807, voted a proclamation recommending to the inhabitants of the Black River settlements the observance of the first Thursday of December next as a day of thanksgiving and praise. This document set forth ------- --------- -------- -----obligations felt towards divine Providence for the blessing of the year, and advised religious services to be performed in the several churches. It was signed by a vote of the convention,--James Murdock, moderator; Nathaniel Dutton, scribe,--and published in the Black River Gazette, at Martinsburgh, then the only paper north of Utica. he governors of the State had not then adopted the custom of appointing a day of thanksgiving, as is now the invariable custom.

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The First Congregational Church of Champion was formed may 7, 1805, Jonathan Carter, Abel Crandel, Joel Mix, Noahiah Hubbard, Joseph Paddock, and John Canfield being the first trustees. On July 4, 1807, Champion and Storrs conveyed to the town two acres of the summit of a hill that overlooks the village for the site o a church and a public green, and it was contemplated to being the erection of a church soon after, but the war that followed directed attention from the object until 1816, in which year Noahiah Hubbard contracted to build a church edifice, to be paid in the sale of pews; but he never realized the cost, five thousand dollars. It was dedicated December 25, 1816. General Champion had promised the town a bell, as a compliment for having had his name given to it, and this was accomplished by the following letter, dated Hartford, September 9, 1816, and addressed to Noadiah Hubbard:

"the bell for your meeting-house was shipped from this place for Albany about ten days past. The tongue is made fastened to the bell; I expect before that it is in Albany. It weighs a little short of eight hundred pounds, and it is said by Colonel Ward to be a very good one. The bell they first cast appeared not to be as perfect as they wished; and of course they broke it to pieces and cast another. I hope it arrives safe, and be satisfactory to your society.

"I am, sir, your very humble servant, ‘HENRY CHAMPION."

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The first church being in a bleak and exposed situation, difficult of access, and in many respects uncomfortable, was taken down in 1844 and rebuilt in the valley, it having been completed and dedicated in the fall of that year.

The Rev. Mr. Dutton was pastor of the church from 1807 until his death in September, 1852. At one time the church had a membership of over four hundred. Some two or more churches have been organized from this one, and with removals and deaths in 1876, the membership was only fourteen, after being without stated preaching for seven years. In 1876 an effort was made to revive the old church. The services of Rev. I. M. C, Dow was secured who served the church for a few weeks, when sickness compelled him to leave the field.There was no more regular preaching until February 14, 1877, when the services of Rev. W. T. Osman were secured. Since then the congregation has increased in numbers, ten have been added to its membership and a good Sabbath-school been formed. (Jefferson County History, L. H. Everts, 1878)

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Transcribed by Holice B.Young

Html by Debbie

December 26, 1999

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[Jefferson County ALHN][NY ALHN]

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