The History of Otsego, NY 
Exeter Churches

By Holice and Debbie


TOWN OF EXETER - Continued

Congregational Church, Exeter — Methodist Episcopal Church, Exeter — Baptist Church, Exeter — Methodist Church of West Exeter — Free-Will Baptist church, Schuyler’s Lake — Richfield Lodge, No. 162, F. & A. M.


The Congregational Church of Exeter was formed July 11, 1806, by the Rev. Wm. Graves, missionary from the State of Connecticut. The first members were as follows: Asabel Williams, Samuel Seymour, Hope Hollister, Priscilla Cushman, David Bryan, Mary Plumb, Elknah Higgins, Wm. Abcel, Irena May, John Phillips, Elias Higgins, Azubah White, E. Dailey, Anna Cranwell, Hannah Morse, Nancy Child, David Hollister, Minerva Cushman, and Mahitable Phillips. The first officers were Asheal Williams, deacon, and Samuel Seymour, clerk. A church building was erected in about the year 1817, and rebuilt in 1859. The present organization is Presbyterian, and its officers are Alonzo Curtis and H. N. Wood, deacons. The last officiating pastor of the church was Frank W. Townsend.


The Methodist Episcopal Church of Exeter Centre was organized Nov. 19m 1821, as the "Methodist Episcopal Church in Otsego and Cooperstown." The following-named persons were chosen first trustees: Elijah Babcock, Calvin Huntley, P. Angell, Thomas D. Mitchell, and Elisha Shepherd. The first services of this society were held in a barn built by Thomas Angell, on the premises now owned by David Angell, on "Angell Hill." Among the first pastors were Revs. Geo. Gary, Chas. Giles, and a Mr. Chase. The present trustees are David R. Angell and John W. Ball; Oscar E. Angell, clerk. The present pastor is Rev. Truman F. Hall. Membership, 36.


The Methodist Episcopal Church of West Exeter was organized in about the year 1830, and for many years was connected with the Exeter Centre charge of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In the year 1873 it was annexed to the Edmeston charge, and remained two years, when it was attached to Exeter and Schuyler’s Lake, and is at present known as the Exeter charge. Among the first members are mentioned the names of Calvin Huntley, Olive Huntley, Martha Huntley, Mr. Huntley (father of Calvin Huntley), John Harrington, Samantha Harrington, Noel Harrington, Hannah Harrington, E. Taylor and wife. The first church building erected was a frame structure 32 by 45 feet, and cost about $1500. It was built in 1839. This building was destroyed by fire march 31, 1872, and rebuilt during the summer of 1873. It was dedicated Nov. 20, 1873, the dedicatory sermon being delivered by Rev. H. H. Wheeler. The new building is 32 by 45 feet, and was erected at a cost of about $3700.

The present officers are as follows; William Johnson, Delevan Huntley, and Calvin Huntley, trustees, and Delevan Huntley and John C. Jones, stewards. Present pastor, Rev. Truman P. Hall. Membership, 34.


The Free-Will Baptist Church of Schuyler’s Lake was organized as a Free Communion society in 1821 by Elder William Hunt. This organization was effected in the old Tunnicliff house, about three miles below Schuyler’s Lake, and consisted of the following persons, viz.: Chauncey Judd and wife, Amelia Judd, Henry E. Firman and wife, Henry J. Herkimer and wife, Harrison Underwood and wife, Mr. Mott and wife, Mr. Robinson, Patience Rose, Amelia Burk. The meetings of the society were held at the Tunnicliff place until the erection of the union church at Schuyler’s Lake in 1838. This church is of stone, and was erected by George Herkimer. The first sermon was preached by Bishop A. Russell. He was followed by the present pastor, Rev. A. Darrow. The following are the present officers: Henry E. Firman, Norman C. Judd, and Daniel Horton, trustees; A. C. Smith and Amos Underwood, committee; N. C. Judd, church clerk.


The Free Baptist church was organized Sept. 2, 1830, by P. W. Lake and Wm. Hunt, elders in said denomination, at the old Tunnicliff house, about two and a half miles south of the village of Schuyler’s Lake, in the ball-room, which place was used by the church as their place of worship until the union church was built.

The council was composed of the following delegates: Elder P. W. Lake, moderator; Henry Fitch, clerk; Elder Wm. Hunt and Deacon Crumb, from Plainfield; Deacon McCoon, from Burlington; Henry Fitch, from Columbia; Deacon Henry Lake and Deacon Gates, from Oneonta. After consultation they decided in favor of organizing a church, to be known as the First Free Baptist church of Exeter. Chauncey Judd and Henry G. Herkimer were ordained deacons, and Elder W, Hunt was chosen as pastor of said church. The first members who names appear on he church record are as follows: Wm. Chappell, Nathaniel Mott and Abigail Mott, Ezekiel Robinson and Betsey Robinson, Chauncey Judd and Amelia Judd, John rider and wife, Henry E. Firman and Rhoda Firman, Stafford Coats and wife, William Herkimer, and Freelove Rose.

Elder Wm. Hunt preached to the church for two years, and then Elder Robert Hunt succeeded him, and remained nine years. The next pastor was Ransom Hunt, for two years, and at the time of the building of the union church Elder B. A. Russell was pastor.

The first meeting of the union society for the erection of the church was held Dec. 17, 1838, and a constitution adopted. The second meeting was held March 4, 1839, and Calvin Underwood, J. Tunnicliff, Amos Fitch, N. Mott, and George Herkimer were elected as the building committee. The house was dedicated march 5, 1840, and the following officers wre chosen: N. Mott, C. Judd, and H. Firman for the Free Baptists; David Steward and John Chappell, for the Methodists; C. Underwood and Alvin Barrus, for the Universalists. The dedication sermons were preached by Wm. Hunt, for the Baptists; elder Job Potter, for the Universalists, and elder Wright, for the Methodists. The time of occupation of the house was decided upon in the following manner; the Universalists to hold the first Sunday; the Free Baptists the second and fourth, the Episcopal Methodists the third Sunday, and the Christian order the fifth Sabbath, when one occurred.

The building is of stone, 32 by 46 feet, and cost about $4000.

The present officers are N. C. Judd, Henry Firman, Amos Underwood, for the Baptist; and Daniel W, Clark, J. H. Vebber, for the Universalists; and C. Watson and I.L. Vebber, for the Methodists; and John F. Gray, society clerk. The present ministers are elder S. Darrow, for the Free Baptist; Rev. S. R. Ward, for the Universalists; Rev. Mr. Hall, for the Methodists. The present number of the Free Baptists is nineteen; the Methodists, about fifty; the Universalists, about ten.

The church building was remodeled at an expense of about $1200, and was dedicated by the respective societies and funds pledged to pay all arrears; at the same time a subscription was circulated, and an organ purchased, costing $200. The church building is a neat and substantial edifice, and reflects great credit upon the enterprise of the denominations interested.


The Baptist church of Exeter was organized in the early part of the present century. The exact date is unknown, but it was probably in about the year 1805 or 1806. The first pastor of whom we learn anything was elder Haskell. He was followed by Elder Palmer, then Israel Hodge. The last was Elder Brazila King. Brethren Angell and Mattison are remembered as deacons of that church. In 1820 the Otsego association met with the church, and one of our present members, John Durfy, came as a delegate from the Whitesboro church, which was then included in the Otsego association. The question of dividing the association was presented at this meeting, and the formation of the Oneida association resulted. The church above mentioned must have disbanded about 1823.

In 1825 forty-five persons, most of whom had been members of previous church, signed the confession of faith and the covenant of practice of the Burlington and Edmeston churches, and on December 24 held a meeting at which they resolved to ask their brethren of Burlington and Edmeston to consider the propriety of setting apart the brethren and sisters at the Lake into a church, and also of setting apart to the work of the gospel ministry Brother John Sawin. The result was a council met in the Baptist meeting-house, at Exeter, Feb. 8, 1826, composed of twenty-seven delegates from ten neighboring churches. The result f the council was the reorganization of the church, and the ordination of John Sawin, in the following order of exercises; sermon, by Elder Washington Windsor; hand of fellowship to the church, by Elder Benj. Sawin; ordaining prayer, by Elder Seth Gregory; Elder John Bostwick gave the charge; Elder Eben Loomis gave the hand of fellowship to the candidate; Elder Benj. Sawin addressed the church; Elder Jacob Knapp offered the concluding prayer. Elder John Bostwick was moderator, and Eben Loomis clerk. The first church meeting was held Feb. 17, 1826. Jonathan Babcock was moderator, and Gilbert Palmer clerk. The first covenant meeting was convened February 25, at which two brethren—C. Palmer and L. Mott—were chosen deacons, and G. Palmer clerk, by the members approaching the clerk of the meeting one by one, and personally communicating to him their choice. At the same meeting a committee was appointed to look into the temporal concerns of Brother Sawin, but their doings were never recorded, and elder Sawin removed from the church in November of that year. During the first year of its existence four were added to the church by baptism and one by letter. From November, 1826, to May, 1829, the church seems to have been without a pastor. During the year 1827 three were added by letter. In 1829, Elder Stephen Hutchins became pastor of the church, and during the year fourteen wre baptized and two added by letter. In 1830 seventeen were baptized, and four received by experience, and three by letter. Aug. 14, 1830, is the first record of the doings of the church after Oct. 25, 1826, at which time it was voted that the Whitesboro’ resolutions on Freemasonry be adopted. C. Turney was appointed superintendent of the Sunday-school, which, doubtless, was the first Sunday-school in the town. In 1831 twenty-seven were baptized, two added by letter, and two by experience. In March of this year the church voted to hold a four-days’ meeting, immediately after which baptisms occurred every month, and sometimes oftener, during the year. This was also a year of discipline, showing that the pruning process tends to increase the fruit. Among other labors there was regular monthly distribution of tracts. During the year Elders Gregory and Curtis were called to sit in council with the church upon a difficult case of discipline; on April 4, in the following year (1832), a council consisting of N. Kendrick, S. Gregory. B. Sawin, W. Burch, and W. B. Curtis, convened to adjust a difficulty between the church and J. Hartson,--an assemblage of superior talent to put out a great fire kindled by a little matter. In November of this year elder Stephen Hutchins was released from the pastorate to go to Mexico. During the year three were baptized and nine added by letter. In February, 1833, the church voted to adopt the plan of circuit preaching, as explained to them by Elder Curtis; raised $90 by assessing eighteen brethren, the largest amount ($12) being paid by John Hartson. On August 18, the church adopted the covenant and articles recommended by the association. In November, Brother Nathan Bundy began to preach to the church; the only additions during the year were by letter, two. In September of the next year Brother Nathan Bundy was called to ordination. During 1834 one was baptized and five added by letter.

In April, 1835, Elder Bundy left the church to labor in Hartwick. The following November Elder R. T. Smith came to labor with the church, and two were baptized and four added by letter. The year 1936 was one of prosperity; twenty-eight were baptized, seven added by letter and two by experience. It is recorded: "We appreciate, with gratitude to God, the final adjustment of the matter of misunderstanding and difference heretofore existing,"etc. In December gave Elder Smith a call for one year, from Jan. 1, 1837, to pay him $300, furnish his wood, and move a load of goods from New Haven, N. Y. The Burlington church wishing his services a part of the time, this church accepted his labors three-fourths of the time, and he labored in this way through the year, during which thirteen were baptized and four added by letter. At the last meeting of this year S. B. Beckwith was chosen clerk. In January, 1838, the church formed itself into a Bible society, and appointed proper officers for such a society. In the early part of 1838, Elder Lyman Wright began his labors with the church, and eight were baptized and five added by letter. Elder Wright continued his labors through 1839, and received $250. During the year four were added by letter, and the following was adopted:

Whereas, The increasing light of the present day on the subject of temperance shows how imperative is every Christian’s duty on the matter; therefore,

Resolved, That is any member of this church shall still continue to use intoxicating drinks a s a beverage, or furnish it for those in their employ to be so used, they do it to the grief of the church.

The labors of Elder Wright continued through 1841 for $250, and use of parsonage; E. N. Bradford was chosen deacon; three were baptized, eight added by letter. In November, 1841, Elder Wright closed his labors as pastor. A protracted meeting had been held in the early part of the year; twelve baptized, four added by letter. In August another council to adjust difficulties was held, consisting of S. Gregory, H. A. Smith, and D. Cutler. From November, 1841, to April, 1842, the church was supplied by Elder Robinson, and during the remainder of 1842 Brother Z. Smith, a licentiate, supplied by the church; eleven were added by letter. Brother Z. Smith continued his labors until April, 1843. After June, Brother J. W. Crumb supplied the church. July 12, the church passed the following:

Resolved, that American slavery, under all possible circumstances, is sinful; that its essential ingredients are those flagrant violations of God’s law and the rights of man which the Bible everywhere condemns; and it becomes the duty of every Christian to labor, and constantly pray, for its speedy and peaceful abolishment.

About this time Abby Kelly found her way to this place, and to the ears and hearts of some of the people, and the year was one of anxiety to lovers of Zion, and of exciting contention with the troubles of Israel; and on November 20 a special church-meeting was held (elders D. Cutler and s. Hutchins being present), at which some melting confessions wre made, the resolution of July was repassed, and the church resolved, "That we will not fellowship the slave-holder, nor those that fellowship the slave-holder," and the aggrieved brethren expressed themselves satisfied, considered the slave question settled, and so far, their difficulties removed. During the year three were baptized, and four added by letter.

In 1844 the church was supplied on communion seasons by neighboring pastors until May, when elder H. Turner became pastor, continuing through the year; difficulties were experienced, growing out of the resolutions of the previous year; one was baptized and two added by letter. In 1845 one was baptized and two added by letter. H. Garlick supplied the church from fall of this year until the following spring. At the first covenant meeting of 1846, C. V. Hartson was appointed clerk, in place of S. B. Beckwith, deceased. This was a year of much trial on matters arising form settled questions of two years before; no pastor; five were added by letter. In the beginning of 1847, Elder Pease labored successfully with the church; wrongs wre confessed and wanderers returned; eight wre added by baptism and three by letter. In July, Elder Homer Clark, began his labors as pastor, and continued until March of the following year. In July, 1848, Elder C. Preston became pastor, and so continued till laid aside by the sickness which resulted in his death, June 12, 1850; during the year one was baptized and eight added by letter. During 1949 four wre baptized and one added by letter, Elder L. Bolton was pastor from June, 1850, to April, 1853. In 1850-51 three were added by letter each year. In 1853 two were added by letter and one by experience. From Aug. 20, 1853, to May 20, 1860, a period of over seven years, there were no additions, and for four year of the time no record of the church was kept. Elder O. Bennett labored with the church one year from May, 1853; after which, till 1860, preaching was hd but occasionally. The church diminished in numbers, and the lovers of Zion were in sadness. At the beginning of 1860, Elder S. P. Way came to labor with the church a part of the time, and continued so till June, 1863; during that time five were baptized, and one added by letter. After April, 1864, there was no communion and but occasional preaching until January, 1869, when Elder O. N. Fletcher came to labor with the church. His labors, by the blessing of God, were successful in the revival of his work; nine were baptized, six added by letter, and one by experience, while the influence and condition of the church greatly enlarged and improved. During the year the house of worship—which was built during the pastorate of Elder Lyman Wright—was repaired and refurnished. At the beginning of the year 1870, Elder Fletcher left for another field, and Elder H. Garlick began his labors with the church. He remained until 1872, and was succeeded by D. C. Potter, of Madison University. He left in 1872, and the church was without a pastor until January, 1874, when Rev. J. H. McGahen began his labors. In 1875 he closed his pastorate, and the pulpit was vacant until 1877, when the present pastor, Rev. L. L. Rury, assumed the charge. The church is prosperous and has a membership of thirty-three souls.


On April 15, 1808, a convention of Free and Accepted Masons was held in Richfield, for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of forming a lodge of Masons to be held in said town. The convention, after considering the subject, adopted a resolution to petition the grand lodge for a dispensation, and recommended James Hyde for Master; E. Pringle, Senior Warden; and James Markham, Junior Warden. A dispensation was granted, and Elijah H. Metcalf, deputy Grand Master, installed the following-named persons as officers on Sept. 15, 1808; James Hyde, Master; E. Pringle, Senior Warden; James Markham, Junior Warden; Jacob Brewster, Secretary; John Dunsmore, Treasurer; Cyrus Robinson, Senior Deacon; Jabez B. Hyde, Junior Deacon; Roswell Starr, and Daniel Randall, Stewards; John Miller, Tyler.

In April, 1857, a dispensation was granted by the grand lodge for the removal of Richfield lodge to Schuyler’s Lake, where the first meeting was held May 6, 1857.

The present officers are as follows, viz.: B. W. Libell, W.M.; L. S. Henry, S. W.; J. W. Fitch, J. W.; L. O. Veber, Secretary; G. D. Lathrop, Treasurer; W. L. Philipps, S. D.; R. D. Smith J. D.; P. Anderson, Tyler.

The lodge is now in a prosperous condition, and has a membership of seventy-two.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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