Cooperstown, Otsego, NY
By Holice and Debbie
Cooperstown Churches, Part II
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
This church was organized Oct. 22, 1816, at a meeting called by A. Canfied and Amos Berry, with the following members: P. Butts, George Roberts, Daniel McLeland, Joseph Perkins and wife, Asher Campbell, Justin Hinman, E. Eaton, Ezra Crane and wife, Andrew Petty and wife, Benjamin Allen and wife, Potter and wife, A. Jarvis and H. Knowlton.
After the organization of the church, services were held in the court-house, school-house, and in private dwellings until 1819, when a church edifice was erected, 35 by 45 feet in size. The building was located on the west side of Chestnut street, on the site now occupied by the Cooper House. The dedicatory services were probably conducted by the Rev. Benjamin G. Paddock, the first stationed clergyman who administered to the spiritual wants of this little flock.
The first trustees o the church were George Roberts, Daniel McLeland, Joseph Perkins, Asher Canfield, and Justin Hinman.
The first church edifice was removed to its present site and enlarged in 1839, during the pastorate of Rev. D. W. Bristol. It was remodeled in 1847 and again repaired and enlarged in 1875, at a cot of $5,000.
A few years after the settlement of Cooperstown, in 1786, the Baptists commenced to hold prayer- and conference-meetings in private houses in the hamlet. Public services were occasionally held, when some missionary or other preacher of their denomination visited the settlement, sometimes in private houses, and, later on, in the school-house or court-house. As early as the commencement of the present century, baptisms near the Otsego rock at the outlet of the lake were of frequent occurrence. This continued until Jan. 21, 1834, when a church society was regularly organized, with Rev. Lewis Raymond as pastor, and in 1835036 the present church edifice was erected at a cost of about $3,000. To accomplish this work a that time required individual sacrifice on the part of many, for the society embraced but few persons of even moderate means; some gave money, others material or labor, and kind friends lent a helping hand. The energy and seal displayed by he pastor were invaluable, and did much to insure success.
Under Elder Raymond's pastorate this church acquired a larger membership--at one time reaching fully 250--than it has ever since attained. They were scattered all about these hills and valleys, within a circuit of ten or twelve miles, and many of them were operatives in the mills south of here. And this pastorate was longer than that of either of his successors, continuing until 1842, a period of eight years. Elder Raymond still survives, a veteran in the service of his Master. He was succeeded by Rev. Stephen Hutchins, who lived to hold the office for only a year, when death severed the connection between a beloved pastor and his people. Rev. John A. Nash was the next pastor, and also remained a year. In 1843, Rev. Francis Prescott accepted a call to the pastorate of the church, and remained about four years, until 1847. Rev. R. G. Toles was his successor for a single year. Rev. George W. Gates was pastor from 1849 to 1852. He succeeded by Rev. E. S. Davis, who held the office of pastor for a single year. Rev. M C. Manning came here in 1854, and left on account of failing health in 1856.
The Rev. Samuel T. Livermore accepted a call to the pastorate of the church in 1856, and continued to hold the office until the spring of 1862. The church saw prosperity and some growth under his administration, --quite a revival,--and a large addition to its membership towards its close. Mr. Livermore induced the society o expend $450 in the erection of a much-needed and convenient chapel for prayer-meetings in 1861; which building was enlarged and improved at a cost of about $325 last fall.
In the fall of 1862 the church gave a call to Everett R. Sawyer, whose family has furnished the Baptist denomination so many preachers of note; it was accepted, and he was ordained as a minister and installed as pastor. His labors among us were blessed, and the church continued to prosper and to increase in membership under his discreet and earnest administration, which was terminated by his acceptance of a call to a much larger field of labor in 1867. Elder Sawyer was that year succeeded by Rev. H. D. Burdick, who remained our pastor one year; and Mr. Burdick by Charles C. Smith, graduate of Madison university, in 1869, who was ordained as a minister, and entered on his duties as pastor. He remained upwards of four years in that office. It was while he was here, and greatly through his earnest efforts, that in the summer of 1870 the society expended nearly $4,000 in enlarging and improving the church edifice.
In the spring of 1874 the church gave a call to George B. Vosberg, another graduate of Madison university, ordaining him as minister in June, when his labors as pastor commenced. They were earnest, energetic, and prayerful throughout, large numbers being added to the membership of the church, so that it about doubled in less then three years. During that time a new organ was purchased, and the chapel was enlarged, at a cost of $1400. It was, therefore, with much regret that the church accepted his resignation at the close of 1876, Elder Vosberg becoming the pastor of the Bergen Baptist church of Jersey City, in January, 1877. The same month this church extended a unanimous call to Rev. F. J. Parry, of Philadelphia, to become its pastor, and were gratified by its early acceptance, and we have reason to hope that his pastorate may prove eminently acceptable and successful among us.
Since the organization of the Baptist church of Cooperstown, it has licensed several of its most devoted members to preach the gospel, some of which remain till now worthy and useful pastors of the church. It has dismissed hundreds of its members to become such in other sister churches, scattered through different States of the Union. Its membership, which had previously slowly dwindled for five or six years--mainly from the cause just given--is fully double what it was at the close of 1873. Removals from this parish make a steady drain on us.
It is a pleasant and cheering fact to record that a distinguishing characteristic of this church has been a unity of feeling and purpose among its membership; the presence of that harmony, kindness, and Christian fellowship which go so far towards making the church of God the most attractive place on earth to the sincere Christian. It has for several years past sustained an annual expenditure which must be deemed very liberal, compared with those of many churches of far greater material resources. May its strength in numbers and in attachment to the good old cause never be less. (The History of Otsego, NY, by Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)
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Transcribed by Holice B. Young
Copyright Debbie Axtman and Holice B. Young
December 24, 1999