The History of Otsego, NY 
Richfield Churches & Schools

By Holice and Debbie



Episcopal Church of Brewster’s Tavern — St. Luke’s Church — Baptist -- First Presbyterian — First Universalist — St. John’s Church — St. Joseph’s Church — First Methodist Episcopal Church — Richfield Springs Lodge, No. 484, F. and A. M. — Richfield Springs Chapter, No.222-Richfield Springs Seminary.


The first church society that was ever formed in the town was the Protestant Episcopal, which was organized at Brewster’s Tavern in1779, with Rev. Daniel Nash as pastor. The church edifice was not erected until 1803. It stood north of the old elms, on the Colwell farm. Christopher Colwell donated the lot. An old cemetery still marks the spot, and the names of many in the first settlers may be deciphered from the moss-covered tombstones. A neat iron railing incloses the remains of three of the Farnham family. John, Amasa, and Cyrus Pringle, Timothy Hatch, and Eben Edson were some of the prominent Episcopalians.

The old church was taken down, and in 1832 the new St, Luke’s, now standing in the village, was built. Ezra Carey (father of Ezra Carey, Jr., and Mrs. Wm. Austin) was one of the prime movers in the enterprise. He was a successful and energetic business man, and gave freely for the support of the church. He died, in the prime of life, the day after the church was raised. Another prominent member was Aaron Dow, who died in 1833, and was the first person busier from the new church.


The old church on the hill west of the village was built, by the united efforts of the Presbyterians and Baptists, in 1804. They occupied it alternately for a time, but it was accidentally burned in 1822. Hon. James Hyde and brother wre active and influential members of the Presbyterian Church. The church was rebuilt by the Baptist near the centre of the village, where it now stands. The first ministers were Elders Hurlburt, Hodges, and Burch. The present clergyman is Rev. Levi Bury.


The congregational church of Richfield (now the First Presbyterian) was organized at a meeting of citizens of the town of Richfield, called at the house of Jacob Brewster, in said town, in February, 1803, as the First Congregational society of Richfield. Jabez B. Hyde, Seth Allen, John Woodbury, Obadiah Beardsley, and Martin Luce were the first trustees of said society.

On Sept. 12, 1803, a meeting was held at the house of Benjamin Corbin, in Richfield, at which time this church had its regular ecclesiastical organization. Rev. James Southworth, of Bridgewater, and Rev, John Spencer, of Vernon, assisted at its organization. Ebenezer Curtis was the first moderator and clerk, and Seth Luce first delegate to the association.

The church society was not regularly incorporated until June 11, 1813, at which time the meeting was held (as appears in the minutes) in the "Congregational meeting-house," but when said house was built the record does not show. This house was destroyed by fire in 1822. The present house of worship, situated in the village of Richfield Springs, was built about the year 1825, while Rev. Charles Wadsworth was pastor of the church, who is also the first pastor mentioned in the records of the society. In May, 1844, the church withdrew from the Oneida association, and united with the Otsego presbytery on the accommodation plan, and continued in this relation till 1868, when, at a meeting called for the purpose, on the 6th day of June, the members of the church resolved by a unanimous vote to change its name from Congregational to Presbyterian. The first ruling elders were H. C. Walter, Wm. D. Griffin, John Dana, and Robert Hall. The first deacons were John J. Edick and Pardon K. Hopkins. The following are the names of the pastors of the church, as early as can be ascertained from the imperfect records, and also the time of their pastorate;

Rev. Charles Wadsworth

1824 to 1830

Rev. D. Van Valkenburg

1830 to 1844

Rev. W. C. Boyce

1844 to 1846

Rev. T. B. Jervis

1846 to 1852

Rev. Henry Boynton-temporary supply

Winter of 1852-53

Rev. Charles Wadsworth, after an absence of about twenty-four years, returned in 1854, and remained till 1858. Mr. M. P. Hill, a student from Auburn seminary, supplied the pulpit during the summer months of 1858 and 1859. Rev. Andrew Parsons, a student from Auburn seminary, was ordained by Otsego presbytery in June, 1860, and remained with the church as its pastor till the spring of 1866.

Rev. F. H. Seeley, a student from Auburn seminary, was ordained by Otsego presbytery in July, 1866, and immediately commenced his labors in the church, and is still its pastor. All the ministers mentioned in connection with this church, so far as known, are living at this date, except Rev. D. Van Valkenburg, who died, while pastor of the church in Springfield, Nov. 24, 1864, and now rests near the little church in this village, where for so many years his voice was heard proclaiming divine truth.

The chapel connected with this church was built in 1870, at a cost of $1,500, which amount was bequested to the trustees of the society by the late Amasa Abbott, of Warren, Herkimer County, who died at the residence of his nephew, Allen Bloomfield, Jan. 2, 1868, aged sixty-eight years and seven months.

In 1876, the trustees of this society removed the old structure and erected a new brick church on the same site, with a chapel attached, at a cost of $12,000. This church is capable of seating 500 persons, and is heated by a wood-furnace in the basement. A bell weighing 1,569 pounds was presented to the society, in 1877, by E. R. Collins Esq., formerly of Try, N. Y. The present trustees are John E. Dalphin, Martin Goss, J. Frink, N. Getman, P. K. Hopkins, H. C. Walter. Rev. F. H. Seeley is still pastor of the church, 1878.


At a meeting of a number of the inhabitants of Richfield and the adjoining towns, convened, pursuant to previous public notice, at the house of Cornelius M. Paul, in the town of Richfield, on May 23, 1833, for the purpose of organizing a Universalist society, organized by choosing the Rev. Jacob Todd moderator, and Tideman H. Gordon clerk. The object of the meeting was then stated from the chair, when a ballot was had, and Davis Brown and Tideman H., Gordon were chosen to preside at this election, and to decide on the qualifications of voters. The meeting then proceeded to ballot for five trustees, and, on canvassing the votes, it appeared that Benjamin R. Elwood, James Wilson, George Tuckerman, Davis Brown, and Moses Wheeler received a unanimous vote, and were duly elected. Tideman H. Gordon was elected clerk, and Benj. R. Elwood treasurer. The trustees were then classed as follows: first class, Davis Brown, Moses Wheeler; second class, James Wilson, George Tuckerman; third class, Benj. R. Elwood. The church edifice of the society is a substantial stone structure, and was erected in the year 1833 on grounds presented to the society by Nathan Dow, Esq.

According to the records, Rev. Orrin Roberts preached in this church two Sabbaths in each month, from April, 1834, to March, 1835, inclusive. Rev. L. C. Brown preached one Sunday each month, from April, 1835 to March, 1836, inclusive. Rev. T. J. Smith engaged to preach one-half the time the ensuing year, commencing in the month of March, 1836. From 1837 to 1861 the following clergymen preached in this church at intervals, viz.: J. S. Kirby, ------Belden, J. H. Tuttle, D. C. Tomlinson, W. E. Manley. In the spring of 1862, Rev. S. R. Ward was called as the regular pastor of the church, in which capacity he continued to labor until April, 1873, when he was called to the Second Universalist church of Syracuse. During the pastoral labors of Mr. Ward the church edifice was greatly enlarged and beautified, at an outlay of $11,000. Rev. Mr. Cook, of Utica, was pastor in 1873. In the spring of 1877, Rev. S. R. Ward was again called to the pastorate of this church, and is at present officiating clergyman. B. A. Weatherbee, Chas. Wilbur, Peter Seeber, Allen Bloomfield, and Isaac Delong are the trustees.


St. John’s church, Richfield Springs, Otsego Co., N. Y., was organized according to law Oct. 1, 1849. The Rev. Samuel G. Appleton, rector of St. Luke’s church, Richfield, N. Y. (Monticello), on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 23, 1849, at the residence of Geo. B. Cary, celebrated divine services, and gave public notice of the purpose to organize a parish in the village of Richfield Springs. A meeting was appointed to be held on October 1 next ensuing, in the same place where the service was held, to carry out said purpose. On Sunday morning, September 30, the Rev. Mr., Appleton again celebrated divine service at the residence of Mr., George B. Cary, and repeated the notice given on the previous Sunday.

On Monday Oct. 1, 1849, at three o’clock in the afternoon, a number of persons assembled in the house above mentioned, and unanimously resolved to organize a parish in communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, under the name and title of Grace church. This resolution was afterwards reconsidered, and the name fixed at it at present continues,--St. John’s church, Richfield Springs, N. Y.

The officers elected at this time were John W. Tunnicliff, senior warden, and John Calbert, junior warden.

William Hayes, George B, Cary, Elias Braman, Olcott C. Chamberlin, Erastus S. Belknap, Charles Delong, Price Griffith, and Joshua Whitney vestrymen.

At a meeting of the wardens and vestrymen, held on Oct. 8, 1849, at the residence of George B. Cary, a committee of vie persons was appointed for the purpose of circulating a subscription paper to secure funds for the erection of a church building. A. Tunnicliff, J. W. Tunnicliff, E. Braman, W. C. Crain, and G. B. Cary constituted the committee.

On Wednesday morning, Aug. 21, 1850, at ten o’clock, the cornerstone of the present church building was laid with appropriate ceremonies, immediately after divine service, by the Rev. Stephen H. Battin, rector of Christ church, Cooperstown, N. Y. There were also present and assisting, the Rev. Joseph H. Price, D.D., and the Rev. Caleb S. Henry, C.C., of New York City, and the Rev. Robert Davis, of Philadelphia. The Rev. Samuel G. Appleton, having removed to Delhi, Delaware co., N. Y., on April 7, 1851, the vestry met, and appointed J. S. Davenport as a committee to go to New York and engage the Rev. Mr. Clements as rector of the parish. For some reason Mr. Clements did not accept the appointment. The Rev. Owen P. Thackara, from the diocese of Maryland, became rector of the parish at some time during the spring or summer of 1851.

The incorporation of the church was approved by the standing committee of the diocese during the year 1851, and the parish was received into union with the convention of the diocese. On Aug. 11, 1853, the present church edifice was dully consecrated to the worship of the Triune God by the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, D. D., D. C. L. On Aug. 3, 1854, Bishop Wainwright again visited the parish, preached, confirmed three, and addressed them; and on the afternoon presided at a meeting of the convocation of Delaware and Otsego counties.

Unfortunately there is no record preserved in the parish of the names of those confirmed at this time. Late in the year 1855 the Rev. Mr. Thackara ceased to hold services in the church, and the Rev. James W. Capen succeeded him. Mr. Capen’s stay, however, was very brief. In June, 1856, the Rev. Robert R. Pearson took charge of the parish. On April 22, 1857, the Rev. Mr. Thackara’s resignation of the rectorship of the parish was accepted and the Rev. Mr. Pearson was duly elected rector in his place. On Aug. 7, 2856, the Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter, D. D., L. L. D., made his first visitation of the parish, preached, and administered holy communion.

To the annual convention of the diocese, held in September, 1857, the Rev. Mr. Pearson made the first report ever made of the condition of the parish. There were then thirty-four families (about one hundred and fifty individuals) connected with the parish. The Sunday-school had two teachers and fifteen scholars. On July 31, 1858, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Potter visited the parish, preached, and confirmed thirteen persons. In September of the same year the Rev. Mr. Pearson records the number of communicants as twenty-eight. On Oct. 22, 1859, the Rev. Mr. Pearson resigned the rectorship of the parish. The church was closed from that date until the first Sunday in May of the following year.

On May 2, 1860, the Rev. J. W. Capen was elected by the vestry as officiating minister until the vacancy in the rectorship should be filled. On Oct.30, 1860, the Rev. Wm. J. Alger was elected rector of the parish. Although Mr. Alger accepted the call, there is no record of his having performed any duty in the parish at this time. On Friday, Aug. 2, 1861, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Potter visited the parish, preached, and confirmed two (one of them is private). To the annual convention in September the senior warden reported as follows, viz.: "During the year we have been without a rector. During the last winter we have had no services, except on two or three Sunday. Rev. J. W. Capen, returning home from Florida, the last of May, has again supplied us with services as his health would permit. We have begun and will soon complete a very convenient and comfortable rectory." In 1862, the Rev. Charles L. Sykes took charge of the parish as missionary. On Sunday, July 26, 1863, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Potter visited the parish, preached, ordained the Rev. C. L. Sykes priest, and confirmed two persons. On Sunday, July 31, 1864, The Rt. Rev. Bishop Potter visited the church, preached, and confirmed five persons.

On July 30, 1869, the Rev. C. L. Sykes resigned the rectorship of the parish. In May, 1870, the Rev. Joshua R. Pierce became rector of the parish, and continued in the rectorship until Oct. 1, 1872. At this time, the present incumbent, the Rev. Edward M. Pecke, entered upon his duties as rector of the parish. During the twenty-four years of the existence of the parish, so far as can be ascertained, 110 persons have been baptized, 41 have been confirmed, 60 have been married, and 45 have been buried. Connected with the parish at the present time there are 46 families or parts of families, including about 175 individuals. The number of communicants is 42. The Sunday-school numbers 35 children and 5 teachers.

The parish property consists of the church building (seating about 200 people, altogether inadequate to the wants of the worshippers in the summer season), and the lot upon which it stands; also a rectory opposite the church, with a large lot of ground about it; a bell, an organ, and all the appointments for a due performance of Divine service. The present officers are as follows: N. D. Jewel, M. D., V. Martin, wardens; W. B. Crain, J. S. Davenport, J. A. Storer, A. C. Cole, W. A. Smith, and J. F. Getman, vestrymen.


This church society was incorporated in 1853, with a membership of about 25. It was at this time a mission station or branch of the church at Cooperstown. The trustees were Patrick Weldon, James Nellie, and William Burke.

The first services of the society were held in the district school-house, and at the private residence of the members. In the year 1870 the present church edifice was completed at a cost of $3,500, and dedicated to the worship of God by the Rev. M. C. Devitt, of Cooperstown. The membership is 1873 ws 200. The dimensions of the church are 32 by f60 feet. It is situated on the north side of Canadarago Street. The oldest member of the church at this time is Mrs. Bridget King, aged ninety-two years. The trustees are William Burke and Patrick Langdon.


Previous to the year 1871 thee was no organized society of Methodists in this village. There wre in the vicinity several small chapels where services wre occasionally held by Methodist ministers or circuit-riders. In what are known as the "old Warren meeting-house" and the "old Columbia meet-house," the former one mile, and the latter six miles distant from the village, Methodist services had been occasionally held for very many years; and in their secluded grave-yards scores of wearied travelers are peacefully sleeping in the shadows of the humble building in which it had been their delight to gather. At the hamlet of Little Lakes, in Warren, three miles distant, was a pretty little church under charge of a regular pastor, the Rev. Mr. Stanton. The eagerness with which the people flocked to these little churches whenever services were held in them, showed that in this vicinity were all the elements necessary for the formation of an active, vigorous society.

The first Methodist Episcopal church of Richfield Springs was incorporated May 29, 1871, and the following board of trustees were chosen, viz.: George B. Cary, Josiah House, Lewis McCredy, Samuel B. St. John, Hiram Getman, Hiram L. Fay, Timothy Green, Ezra W. Badger, and Cornelius Ackerman. Rev. O. C. Wightman, of Mohawk, who with his congregation had just built a handsome new church at this place, was assigned to this charge, and at once entered upon his duties. The society entered heart and soul into the project for the building of the new church, worshipping meanwhile in Union Hall, their meetings being uniformly well attended.

April 1, 1872, a lot was purchased on the corner of Main and Manley Streets, for which $2,000 was paid. The corner-stone of the new church was laid Aug. 20, 1872, in the presence of a large concourse of people, with appropriate ceremonies. The building committee consisted of the following gentlemen: Ezra W. Badger, chairman, George B. Cary, and Hiram L. Fay. The building is of brick, 45 by 75 feet, with chancel in the rear 6 by 17 feet, and has one tower 120 feet in height, in which has just been placed a fine bell costing $550. There is also a fine, large and well-lighted basement for the Sunday-school and chapel purposes. The total cost of the church, including the lot is about $17,000.

The dedication occurred on Tuesday, Jan 6, 1`874. The services were opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Shepard, of Ilion, after which a hymn was read by the Rev. O. C. Wightman. The doxology was sung by the Springfield choir. The Rev. B. I. Ives, of Auburn, then preached an eloquent sermon from Matt. v.16, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in Heaven." The amount of indebtedness remaining on the church ($10,600) was promptly subscribed by those present. The Messrs. Remington, of Ilion, gave the munificent sum of $3,000 in various ways, and they have heretofore helped the church by loaning them money without interest, and otherwise laid the society under lasting obligations to them, which they gratefully acknowledge. This church is indeed an ornament to our village, and of which we may justly as a community feel proud. Among the clergymen of the Methodist Episcopal church present were Rev. Mr. Corse, presiding elder; Rev. B. I. Ives, of Auburn; Rev. A. G. Markham, pastor of the church; Rev. A. b. Gregg, of Jordan; Rev. O. C. Wightman, former pastor, now of Forestport, Oneida County, and Rev. Mr. Shepard, of Ilion. The present officers of the church are as follows: G. B. Cary, E. W. Badger, A. K. Goodier, C. Ackerman, J. C. Bush, William Haskell, L. F. Brown, Edwin Loomis, and J. House, trustees; pastor, Rev. J. V. Furguson.


This lodge was duly organized on Aug. 12, 1859, by W. M. Mordecai Myers, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. The first officers wre Hon. James Hyde, W. M.; Hon. Charles Delong, S. W.; Daniel W. Woodbury, J. W.; Lot H. Hasford, Sec.; General Wm. P. Johnson, Treas.; David Firman, J. D.; Silas Gray, Tyler. This lodge holds its regular communications on the second and fourth Saturdays in each month. Present membership about 100. Present officers: John Derthick, W. M.; W. A. Smith, S. W.; J. E. Ackerman, J. W.; J. F. Getman, S. D.; B. Lockwood, J. D.; H. C. Watson, Sec.; N. Getman, Tres.; T. I. Jacques, Tyler.

Ladies Degrees.—The initial degree for ladies was conferred Aug. 13, 1859, on the following names, by Mr. M. Benedict, viz.: Mary Cheeseman, Mary Johnson, Matilda Reed, Olive Elwood, Fanny Hyde. The following ladies received the degree of "True Kinsman": Matilda Reed, Fanny Hyde.


This sublime adjunct of Masonry was organized April 29, 1868. The fist officers were S. R. Stewart, H. P.; L. M. Doubleday, S.; W. B. Lidell, K. Present number of members, 71. Regular Convocations, first and third Fridays, of each month. The present officer are as follows: Rev. S. R. Ward, M. E. H. P.; John Derthick, E. K.; N. R. Baker, E. S.; J. F. Getman, C. of the H.; A. K. Goodier, P. S.; J. E. Ackerman, R. A. C.; Elias Young, M of 3d. V.; Henry Greenman, M. of 2d V.; M. D. Barrus, M. of 1st V.; Martin Goes, Sec.; James Mason, Treas.; N. Getman and a. J. Smith, trustees; T. I. Jacques, Tyler.


In the early summer of the centennial year, 1876, decided educational movement wa apparent in Richfield. It seemed the auspicious moment for the establishment of a high school in the town. Four important events conspired to insure a successful result.

Ist. Prof. A. K. Goodier, who for seven years had been the successful and popular principal of West Winfield academy, now allowed his lease to expire at that institution.

2d. Prof. N. W. Cadwell, a graduate of Hamilton College, an able and efficient instructor, was at this time in search of a permanent location.

3d. These two gentlemen were men of means, had formerly taught within the same halls, and were bound together by the warmest ties of friendship and association. Hence, naturally, they, sought a field of labor where, by mutual cooperation, their united efforts would insure for each a more perfect success.

4th. Richfield Springs, , a historic and healthful village, with railroad and telegraphic communications, and centrally located, presented a most desirable situation for an institution of learning.

In this place the Derthick House was found to be eminently adapted for school purposes. It was modeled and built in 1870 for a summer hotel by one of Richfield’s most esteemed citizens.—Mr. John Derthick. This beautiful and substantial structure stood five stories in height, perfect in outline and proportion, its original furniture complete in every detail, proclaiming that its builder had neither spared means to embellish and adorn, nor material to render strong and enduring. Such were the causes; there could be but one natural result. But "hard times," the amount of money to be raised, and the greatness of the undertaking, discouraged very many at this juncture. Messrs. Goodier & Cadwell proposed to buy the property, guarantee a first-class seminary for a term of years, provided the citizens raised $4,000,--one-half of which to be returned in scholarships. Efforts were put forth and nearly $3,000 were raised, yet failure seemed imminent. The "workers" had done their utmost, discouragement prevailed, and Prof. Goodier opened an academy in Burlington Flats. The other professor remained and traversed the country in this immediate vicinity for subscriptions, which proved successful. In less than two months the purchase was effected, the building was dedicated, and the seminary opened under both principals, with one hundred and fifty students. At the end of the first school year the names of over two hundred students had been enrolled, and one graduated from the institution who is now in college. The principals

Seek the most accomplished and experienced teachers, and their curriculum embraces all branches taught in preparatory schools and business colleges. To impress upon the student a practical and thorough knowledge of all studies seems the constant aim of the faculty of the institution.

The first annual commencement of the seminary occurred June 13, 1877. Then the first graduates oration was delivered by J. Corwin Jacks of Batavia; subject, "The Turk and His foe." The commencement address was ably delivered by John W. Mears, of Hamilton College, and the annual exhibition held in Union Hall.

Thus has a strong and flourishing institution sprung into existence. For its future permanence and prosperity it demands the heart co-operation of all, and doubly so that of the citizens of Otsego County. All educational interests, our public school and our churches, must ever be sustained. Remove these moral and spiritual agencies and we retrograde, and go back to barbarism and ignorance. An educated nation is always powerful, her industries successful. The old Latin proverb reads, "Life gives nothing to mortals with great labor," and the sentiment is as true now as two thousand years ago. The highest rounds of true and enduring fame are reached only by steadfast, earnest toilers. The poorest and weakest must faint not. The world alone and yourself are yet unconquered, and you are rich in all the elements of human power. In your imaginary poverty lies your success, Pope says,--

"Honor and fame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all honor lies."
Says that living poet of to-day,--
"life is real, life is earnest!
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb driven cattle,
Be a hero in the strife.
Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime,"

The Romans would choose none other than Cincinnatus, whom they led from the plow, that he might become Dictator. Your intellect is now shapeless, undeveloped. It is the rough, uncut diamond of wealth to you, but available only through toil and delightful study. "When the eye of Reason opens, to outline and surface at once are added grace and expression." You are giving the finishing stroke to the master-artist. The nineteenth century demands educated men, more intellect! Worth is beginning "to make the man." More especially is this true of the United States. We already begin to rival the manufacturers, the commerce, the genius of other nations. England is great, but America is greater, because of her constitutional government and liberal institutions. A writer says, "A word in England is greater than a man in Italy," but "a thought in America is often greater then a cabinet in Europe." Living in a land thus favored in climate and geographical position; "Empire State," bounded by success in every step of her progress, in the beautiful and historic county of Otsego, there are noble men and women who daily testify to the priceless benefits of a thorough education and liberal institutions of learning. Such institutions of your county are but the mirrors and landmarks of your progress. Educate your children, and you adorn your homes,--you leave an enduring heritage. Teach them the Delphic motto, "Know thy opportunity." Do this, strength home industries, home institutions, and the harvest returns a hundred-fold. Your historian of to-day predicts with confidence that in the bright years of the near future this flourishing seminary, grown strong and known far abroad by your liberal and determined support, will prove through your educated sons and daughters a mine of enduring wealth to you and them, a constant source of pleasure and profit, the recollections their Alma Mater.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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