Church History of Rushford, New York
A Centennial Memorial
History of Allegany County, New York
John S. Minard, Esq. Historian
Mrs. Georgia Drew Andrews, Editor.
W. A. Fergusson & Co., Alfred, N. Y. 1896

RELIGIOUS. - Rev. Ephraim Sanford is said to have been the first to conduct religious services in 1813: He had settled at North Urbana, near Keuka Lake before 1800, and preached the first sermon in the town of Urbana, Steuben county, in 1795, "dressed in a buckskin suit, and a coonskin cap, covering his long black hair." In this garb he would travel about the country, searching for the souls of sinners. Quite likely this was the dress he wore when he preached the first sermon in Rushford. Where this service was held does not appear. It was said of him that "it made no difference whether a log cabin or a small clearing filled with blackened stumps was his auditorium, or whether his listeners were a large camp meeting, or a dozen settlers, he was just as willing to preach to one as a thousand." His work was not that of organization, and he was followed by those who established churches.

The Baptist Church of Rushford was organized in 1815 with James McCall, Levi Benjamin, Eliab Going, Joshua L. Delano, Aaron Capen, Jerusha Gordon, Abigail Benjamin and Sally Benjamin as members. Elder Beckwith presided at the meeting which was held November 7th, and James McCall was chosen standing moderator, Eliab Going church clerk and Levi Benjamin deacon. June 29, 1816, the Lord's Supper was first celebrated. The first minister was called in March, 1817. The first salaried pastor, Elder Titus Gillett, was settled in June, 1818. The salary was "house rent, one fourth of an acre of land for a garden, horse and cow kept, and seventy five dollars." In 1821 the church united with the Holland Purchase Association, and Elder W. W. Powers was offered $150 in produce to preach one half the time but did not accept, and Elder Eliab Going was engaged for the other half. Eliab Going's salary was to be "at the rate of $12 per month for the time he stayed, and be paid in produce, wheat $1 and corn 62 1/2 cents." Elder Going preached occasionally until 1829, most of the meetings being held at Peter Freeman's or at the schoolhouse. In 1829 Elder Absalom Minor was settled and remained pastor till 1840. The Holland Land Company gave the church 100 acres of land (where A. W. Litchard's farm is). Turner says the first church edifice was built in 1817. It must have been a very small and rude affair. In 1838 the present edifice was built. It has been remodeled from time to time to keep pace with the times, and is now a convenient place of worship. Since 1840 the pastors have been, Revs. C. Wardner, E. L. Harris, 1845-50; E. J. Scott, 1851-54; Ira W. Simpson, 1854-63; A. T. Cole, 1863-68; C. Wardner, 1869-72; A. V. Eddy, 1872-76; M. Livermore, P. S. Everett, W. L. Munger, C. B. Smith and Alfred R. Spencer, the present incumbent. The membership is about 100. The property, including parsonage, is worth $4,500 and free from debt. A Sunday school of 175 pupils has A. M. Taylor as superintendent. The library has 262 volumes.

Methodist Episcopal Church. - Rev Elijah Metcalf preached the first Methodist sermon, and in 1816 organized a Methodist Episcopal Church, with 10 members. He was a missionary on the Holland Purchase and preached till his death in 1861. In 1826 or 27 a small church was erected west of the creek. In 1854 the present large house of worship was erected. Pastors: Revs. Cyrus Story 1820, M. Preston, Mr. Hazen, D. Shepardson 1826, Elijah Boardman 1827, Mifflin Hooker, J. Wiley 1829, D. Anderson, John Cosart 1830, Philo Brown, S. W. Wooster 1832, Wm. D. Buck, Fuller Atchinson 1834, Alvin F. Walker, Francis Strand 1835, Augustus Anderson, H. M. Seaver, Mr. Bell, Mr. DuBois. Albert Tury, C. S. Balker, A. F. Comfort 1841, Nathan Fellows 1843, C. D. Burlingham 1845, David Nichols 1847, Charles Shelling 1850, B. T. Roberts, Mr. Chaney, Sanford Hunt 1853, Milo Scott 1855, Jason Miller 1857, Geo. W Terry 1859, W. S. Tuttle 1860, John McEwen 1862, Major Lyon 1863, M. H. Rice 1864, E. A. Rice 1867, Buel Blake 1869, E. L. Newman 1870, C. C. Wilbur 1872, R. S. Pierce 1874, A. M. Leggett 1876, C. S. Daley 1878, Wm Magavern 1879, W. B. Wagner 1881, A. H. Johnson 1884, R. C. Grames 1887, J. E. Wallace 1889, J. A. Gardner 1891, T. W. Chandler 1891, W. H. Manning 1895. The membership is 95. A large and flourishing Sunday school is conducted, of which A. W. Litchard is superintendent, and all the different church interests are well looked after. The church is an aggressive and prosperous one.

The First Presbyterian Church. - April 16, 1838, after a public notice, a meeting was held in the schoolhouse in the west part of the village where a Presbyterian church or society was organized. Rev. Lemuel Hall of Centreville, Rev. A. S. Allen of Cuba, Rev Phineas Smith of Portageville, and James R. Bell and James Simons, elders of the Presbyterian church in New Hudson, were present. The members were: Eneas Gary. Esther Garey, Earle Baird, Ruth Baird, Joel Griffin, Clarissa Griffin, Submit Griffin, Sarah McDonald, Warren McKinney, Betsy McKinney, Alvin Congdon, Roana Congdon, Lyman Congdon, Fanny Morrison, Rosina McCall, Alfred Bell. Juliette Bell, Huldah McCall and Electa McKinney. Alfred. Bell was chosen clerk and Earle Baird, Joel Griffin, and Lyman Congdon, elders. A resolution favoring temperance was adopted unanimously. In June a committee was appointed to obtain a minister at each communion, and raise funds to defray expenses. The records say nothing of the erection of a church edifice, but Aug. 20, 1842, mention is made of the first meeting "in their new church," and Rev. C. W. Gillam the next day administered the Lord's Supper. In 1853 it was changed to a Congregational church, and in 1867 changed back to its present form, Presbyterian. Pastors: Rev. C. W. Gillam, I. Rawson, Doolittle, Miller, Henry, Johnson, Lane, Frost, Ballard, Cofrin, Spencer, Ward, Watkins and Cone. For some years no pastor has been settled over this church. The membership is small and growing less.

The First Free Methodist Church. - This church was organized in 1871 by Rev. J. W. Reddy. Some of the original members were, James Gordon, Abigail Gordon, Charles English, Lavanche Van Duzen, George Worthington, Ophelia Van Duzen, Adelia Clement, Robert English, Elijah Metcalf, Cordelia Metcalf, Elijah Metcalf, Jr., Saloma Metcalf, Cornelia Metcalf, Harris Gilbert and Levi Metcalf. Their first house of worship was the old M. E. church, used for a music school. This was afterwards burned. The present one is the old Universalist church, which was purchased, repaired and rededicated in 1873. It will seat 250 persons. The pastors have been. Revs. J. W. Reddy, T. B. Cattin., C. C. Eggleston, A. H. Bennett, M. E. Brown, Thomas Slocum, Noah Palmer, Mr. Rowley and G. D. Mark.

Universalist Church. - In the forties a Universalist church was organized and in a few years a church edifice was constructed and dedicated. Isaiah Lathrop, Mr. Leavens and Mr. Colburn were early Universalists. Early preachers were, Nathaniel Stacy, Wm. Gowdy, I. B. Sharp, J. B. Saxe, J. J. Brayton. Owing to deaths and removals, and lack of others to take their places, the church declined and meetings Ceased to be held and the church building was sold to the Free Methodists.

Rushford History Index

Rushford History
Rushford Churche History
Rushford People Part 1
Rushford People Part 2.

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