History of the Village of Johnstown, NY (part 3)
From: History of Fulton County
Revised and Edited by: Washington Frothingham
Published by: D. Mason & Co. Syracuse, NY 1892

Other Churches

St. Paul's Lutheran Church. - Among the early settlers of Johnstown was a goodly number of Lutherans, or Evangelical Christians, who received the Augsburg Confession as the standard of their faith. A few of these may have come hither directly from the land of Luther, but the majority were from Schoharie and the settlements along the Hudson river. Sir William Johnson, with wise liberality, shortly after their settlement, gave his Lutheran neighbors fifty acres of land for church purposes, which was known as the "glebe lot." Upon this lot a church edifice and school house were built, both of which were removed after a few years to other localities. An ancient burial ground which was contiguous to the church alone remains, a reminder to the present generation of the spot where their fathers once worshiped. In 1857 this lot was sold to Mr. John N. Gross, and from his hands passed into those of Henry Gross, who devised it upon his decease to his son John, the present owner. Prior to the revolution religious services were occasionally held by Lutheran clergymen in the private homes of their people, upon which occasions they would, in addition to preaching the word, administer baptism and the holy communion. Although a church organization seems to have been effected at an earlier date, yet the first instrument of incorporation recorded bears the date of February 4, 1801. The title of the church was at this time "The Reformed Protestant German Lutheran Church of the Western Allotment of Kingsboro." Jacob Hillabrandt, Adam Plank and Charles Roth were chosen trustees. The congregation was then without a pastor. Since the above named date this church has been thrice reincorporated. First, December 16, 1810, when its name was changed to the "German Lutheran Church of Johnstown." Michael Moore, Peter Piantz and Christian Wert were at this date elected trustees. The Rev. Peter Wilhelm Domier, a learned divine, was then pastor of this congregation, which he served in connection with others at Minden, Palatine, and Stone Arabia. The Lutherans, having no church edifice of their own, were granted the privilege. of using St. John's church four Sundays in a year, of which privilege they availed themselves until they erected their first sanctuary in the village during the year 1815-16. The narrative of the building of this first church and of the business affairs of the congregation has the smack of primitive times. On the 21st of October, 1815, Michael Moore, Michael Swobe, Christian Wert, David Algyre, and Adam Plank, trustees, entered into a contract with Peter Fowler, Charles Laughery, and William McDonald, builders, to erect a church edifice on the corner of Perry and Green streets. The building was to be of wood, fifty feet long by forty wide, and the builders among other things were to copy the Presbyterian church in the item of "Venetian windows," and the Episcopal church as to a steeple. They were to receive $3,000 in payment for the building, which was to be completed sometime during the year 1816. After its completion services were held therein once a month. At this time the members of the congregation lived principally in two settlements - the one west of town, called Johnson's Bush, and the other east of town, called Albany Bush. Each settlement had its particular part of the church in which to worship, the people entering through the western or eastern door, according to the bush in which they lived. Equally particular were they in apportioning the expenses of the church, the Albany Bush people, being the more numerous, paid three fifths, and those of Johnson's Bush two fifths.

On Christmas Day, 1821, the society was again reincorpocatea under the title of "The Dutch Lutheran Church of Johnstown." The trustees at this time were Michael Moore, David Algyre, and Christian Wert.

The third reincorporation, at which time its present name was given, viz.: "St. Paul's Church, Johnstown, N. Y.," occurred December 11, 1826. Rev. John Peter Goertner was then pastor, and the following officers were chosen: Frederick Plank, Michael Hollenbeck, and Michael B. Heagle, trustees; Michael Moore, Frederick Plank, David Algyre, and Michael Swobe, elders; Baltus Hollenbeck, Frederick M. Moore, John Argersinger, and Abram Neifer, deacons. At a congregational meeting held May 10, 1827, a committee previously appointed reported a constitution, which was adopted, and by which the church was governed for half a century. At this meeting the pastor, Rev. Goertner, because of failing health, tendered his resignation, to the great regret of a devoted people. He was the first pastor who conducted the worship of the sanctuary in the English language, and although his pastorate was short, yet it was fruitful of great and lasting good.

Rev. Thomas tape succeeded the lamented Goertner, and after a faithful service of six years resigned and was followed by Rev. David Eyster, who remained in charge twenty one years. During the early part of his ministry, which began in the year 1834, St. Matthew's Church of West Amsterdam was organized from families belonging to this church. For several years after the organization of this latter church he continued its pastor, giving it an afternoon service.

Upon the retirement of Rev. Mr. Eyster the church was without a pastor fur about a year, when the Rev. J. Z. Senderling assumed the duties of that office, entering thereupon May 1, 1856. Shortly after his settlement the Sunday school was first organized, with a membership of twenty one. The present membership of the school is nearly five hundred. John Plantz was its first superintendent, Andrew J. Nellis now serving in that capacity. Pastor Senderling remained in charge eleven years when he resigned, and Rev. Marcus Kling became his successor, whose pastorate was a little less than three years. He was succeeded by the present incumbent, Rev. P. Felts, who entered upon the duties of his office June 1, 1870. Two years later a fine brick church, 56 by 96 feet in area, with a spire 146 feet high, containing sittings for nearly 700, and costing $33,000, was consecrated. It contains an organ that cost in its present improved condition $4,000, and which for eighteen years was skillfully played by W. H. Raymond. Upon his decease the congregation was fortunate in securing the services of B. M. Grant, an accomplished musician. The present communicant membership of the church is about four hundred. Five worthy men have gone forth from this congregation as preachers of the gospel, viz.: David Swobe, John Selmser, James Lefler, and Nicholas and Joseph Wirt, of whom all except Nicholas Wirt have gone to their rest and reward.

The present officers of the church are: Trustees, Jacob Molz, Fred P. Coughnet, and J. T. Selmser; treasurer, F. Hanson; deacons, C. E. Schoenfeldt, F. J. Moore, jr., M. L. Cambridge, and John H. Putnam.

The Methodist Episcopal Church - The exact date of the organization of the first Methodist society in Johnstown will probably never be known. Those who participated in the early religious worship have long since passed away, leaving no names or dates for the guidance of the historian. It is evident that a society existed in 1791, as Freeborn Garrettson preached here in June of that year, and in writing from Albany soon after, he mentioned his "little flock in Johnstown." During this visit he secured a lot and engaged men to build a house of worship, which was completed early in the following autumn. It is stated that this building stood on the north side of Main street, a few doors east of the site of Judge Cady's residence, or what is now the People's Bank, and was subsequently sold and the society disbanded. It is learned from Spicer's autobiography that Johnstown belonged to a regular circuit of the New York Conference in 1814, the territory embracing some fourteen towns lying between the Mohawk and Sacandaga rivers. In 1827 Johnstown formed a part of Montgomery circuit, which had for its preachers, John D. Moriarty, J. W. Denison, and John Alley. In 1828 Pastor Moriarty was stationed at Johnstown and the following year, with Merritt Bates, junior preacher, was appointed to the "Johnstown Circuit." The present Methodist Episcopal society of Johnstown was organized August 31, 1829, at a meeting held in the court house, and the following trustees elected: Abraham Lake, Benj Burritt, Caleb Winslow, John Bell, Stephen Kilburn. At this meeting, Nicholas Garlock and Russell Prentice presided and Pastor Bates was chosen secretary. The Sunday school of the church was formed July 13 of the same year, with Pastor John D. Moriarty as presiaent, Nicholas Garlock, treasurer, and John Bell, Philip Piantz, George Horning, Russell Prentice, Henry Brown, Stephen Kilburn and Zebulon Phillips, managers. A church edifice was erected the same year, and stood on the site of the present parsonage for nearly fifty nine years. The dedicatory services pet formed at the completion of this building were conducted by Rev. John B. Stratton, presiding elder. The edifice underwent repairs in 183, 1852, 1871 and 1872. Substantial increase of the membership was made during: the pastorate of L. S. Walker, 1874-77, and at the end of his term 270 names were on the church roll. It soon became apparent that better and larger accommodations were needed, and during the pastorate of William H. Washburne, in 1881, the lot upon which the present church edifice stands was purehased at a cost of $4,000. Efforts were made upon two occasions to secure by subscription a sufficient sum to build a new house of worship, but the petitioners were not rewarded with success until eight months after the third subscription list (started July 5, 1886) had been in circulation. At the end of that time $12,000 had been pledged. The plans for the new building were made by architect Charles C. Nichols, of Albany, and the contract for construction was let to Jonah Hess, of Johnstown. The cornerstone was laid July 16, 1887, with appropriate services by the presiding elder, Rev. Samuel Meredith, addresses being made by Rev. J. H. Coleman, of Gloversville, and Rev. W. H. Hughs, of Schenectady. The dedication of the new church took place. on Wednesday, June 20, 1888, Rev. J. W. Hamilton, of the New England Conference, preaching in the morning, and Bishop William Taylor, of Africa, in the evening. The total cost of the structure, with the lot upon which it stands, and the organ, furniture and other expenditures incident to its construction, was $38,619.51. The Troy Annual Conference held its fifty ninth session in this church, commencing April 22, 1891. The present membership is 576.

The following list comprises the pastors of the church from the beginning of its present organization:

Old Johnstown Circuit - John D. Moriarty and Merritt Bates, 182930 J. B. Houghtaling and Merritt Bates, 1830-4; J. B. Houghtaling and Samuel Covel, 1831-2; Samuel Covel and William D. Stead, 1832-3; James Quinlan and John Harlem, 1833-4; Elias Crawford and Albert Champlin, 1834-5; Elias Crawford and Henry L. Starks, 1835-6; Dillon Stevens and Peter H. Smith, 1836-7; Dillon Stevens and Leonard H. Radley, 1837-8; James H. Taylor and Leonard L. Bradley, 1838-9.

Johnstown and Gloversville Circuit - James H. Taylor, Thomas B. Pierson and Wm. Griffin, 1839-40; Wm. Griffin, Thos. B. Pierson and R. T. Wade, 1840-1; Stephen Parks, Albert R. Speer and Myron White, 1841-2.

Johnstown and N. Amsterdam. - Albert R. Speer, 1842-3; Peter M. Hitchcock, 1843-4.

Johnstown Station. - P. M. Hitchcock, 1844-45; Benj. Pomeroy, 1845-7; Hiram Chase, 1847-8; James Quinlan, 1848-9; William F. Hurd, 1849-51; William A. Brown, 1851-2; Robert R. Thompson, 1852-4; H. C. H. Dudley (part year), 1854; Tobias Spicer and Wm. Tisdale (each part year), 1855; Merritt B. Mead, 1856-8; Henry T. Johns, 1858-9; Robert Patterson, 1859-60; William H. Meeker, 1860-2; Lorenzo Marshall, 1862-4; N. G. Spaulding and J. G. Perkins (each part of year), 1864-5; Isaac C. Fenton, 1865-7; Henry L. Starks, 1867-70; Aaron D. Heaxt, 1870-2; William Clark, 1872-4; Leonard S. Walker, 1874-7; Thomas C. Potter, 1877-80; W. H. Washburne, 1880-3; Lorenzo Marshall, 1883-6; James H. Brown, 1886-94; W. II. Washburne, 1891.

The present officers of the church are: Rev. H. Graham, presiding elder; W. H. Washburne, pastor; Fred G. Baker, C. S. Wemple, F. Meyers, D. H. Van Heusen, and M. Argersinger, trustees; Fred. G. Baker, recording steward; W. I. Dawes, P. Farmer, S. Beekman, C. Hodgson, J. K. Young, J. C. Richards, W. S. Argersinger, W. E. Werner, R. Smith, John Jackson, H. M. Sutliff, and S. L. Peters, stewards; Robert R. Sands, Sunday school superintendent.

The Baptist Church of Johnstown. - Little known of the early Baptists in Johnstown. There were a few of that denomination living in or near the village as early as 1795, and some of them held prayer meetings at the house of a Mr. Hardy, an Englishman, who lived on Williams street, and also at the house of a member of the Methodist church named Brewster, opposite the Dutch Reformed meeting house. Beginning about 1803, Elders Finch, Throop and Lathrop preached at Johnstown in the Methodist church, but later on most of the Baptists in the vicinity moved north to Kingsboro, and it is said that in 1818 Mrs. Lydia Wells was the only Baptist in the village. From that time forward, however, their number began to increase, occasional services were held and several attempts made to establish a church. Among those who preached at these early meetings were Elders Isaac Westcott. I. Whitman and David Corwin, but it appears that their efforts to organize a society were unsuccessful.

In September, 1842, Rev. Lewis Raymond, of Cooperstown, begbeganseries of meetings in Johnstown, the result of which was the organization of a church society on the 3d of November, following. On that day a council consisting of delegates from the Baptist churches in Amsterdam, Gloversville, Pleasant Valley and Broadalbin, met in the court house in Johnstown and formally organized a Baptist church. The chairman of this meeting was Elder David Corwin and the clerk Elder L. O. Lovell. The church was organized with about sixty members, eleven others being baptized and received two days later. J. H. Murray and Abel S. Leaton were chosen church clerk and treasurer respectively, and on the second succeeding Sabbath a Sunday school was organized. During the last two months of the year 1842 the congregation was under the spiritual charge of Rev. Mr. Joslyn. The church was regularly received into the Saratoga Baptist Association at its annual meeting held in Gloversville, January 4th, 1843. On January 25th, of the same year, Rev. John Duncan began his pastorate with the church, and on the 21st of the following February the first deacons were elected Williams, Potter, Hedden, and Leaton. Elders Duncan terminated his services with the society in June, 1843, and al though meetings were held, and different pastors occupied the pulpit for a few weeks at a time, an unfortunate dissension took place in the society, which resulted in its disbanding in February, 1854, and the church building, purchased in 1851, was placed in the hands of the Saratoga Association. Ten years elapsed before another successful attempt was made to bring the Baptists of Johnstown together in harmonious organization. This was finally accomplished by Rev. Mr. Fisher, who went to Johnstown in October, 1864, and held meetings which drew together moderately large congregations. The church was reorganized in June, 1865, Mr. Fisher continuing as its pastor, and as a result of his zealous labors the society received an impetus that was substantially felt fur many years. When Mr. Fisher closed his pastorate in March, 1869, the church had a membership of 109. His successor was Rev. W. H. Hawley, who began his services in June, 1869, and remained with the congregation until June 13, 1873, during which time eighty persons were baptized and the society greatly strengthened. Rev. A. J. Allen came to the pastorate January 2d, 1874, and continued his labors until the spring of 1876. On the 15th of the following October, Rev. Roland D. Grant became pastor and remained until November, 1878. Some slight dissensions arose during his pastorate, but otherwise it was very successful. He was followed by Rev. T. Simpkins, who began his labors with the church April 1, 1889, and during a period of nearly eight years served the congregation acceptably. During this time a substantial organization was effected and many improvements introduced into the manner of conducting the various affairs of the church. A new brick edifice was built on Main street and the membership was considerably increased. Mr. Simpkins resigned his pastorate January 1, 1886.

The present minister, Rev. Cyrus H. Merrill, began his work April 1886, and is consequently in the seventh year of his pastorate. During this time 225 persons have united with the church and 151 have been baptized. The total membership is now 330 and the Sunday school has 350 scholars.

An evidence of the present prosperous condition of the society is the fact that they have in process of erection a handsome brick church at the corner of Green and Williams street, which, when finished, will accommodate about 900 persons.

The present officers are: Deacons, Abel R. Vibbard, Charles M. Putman and Herbert Allen; trustees, E. Bradt, John W. Hagadorn, L. B. Hawley, Frank Torrey, Byron Chase and C. M. Putman; superintendent of Sunday school, W. H. Alexander; assistant, Fenton I Grilly; secretary, William R. Snyder; librarian and treasurer, A. R. Kinne.

The United Presbyterian Church of Johnstown. - The original members of this society were from Scotland, or of Scotch descent. The church was organized in March, 1828, in connection with the denomination known at that time as the Associate Church of North America. In 1858 this body united with the Associate Reformed Church, and thus established the present United Presbyterian Church.

The original members were Daniel Walker, John McNab, John D. Walker, Gilbert Walker, John Walker, Duncan Campbell, Peter McKie, Peter Stewart, David Walker, Robert Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Walker, Margaret McNab, Catherine Walker, Jane Walker, Margaret Walker, Catherine Campbell, Girsel McKie, Jane Stewart, Isabel Walker, and Catherine McNab.

The first elders were, John McNab and John D. Walker. The successive pastors have been: Rev. J. G. Smart, 1830-1837; Rev. A. Gordon, 1844-1845; Rev. A. Thomas, 1858-1863; Rev. J. A. Williamson, 1864 to the present time.

The first church edifice was a frame building built in 183o, on South Market street. It was afterwards sold and remodeled into a glove factory. The present handsome brick structure on North Market street was erected in 1869, and is one of Johnstown's most imposing church edifices.

The present officers are: Pastor, Rev. J. A. Williamson; elders, John McNab, D. B. Calderwood, and Alexander Walker; trustees, John McNab, Alexander Walker, Leonard Argersinger, W. F. Young, and L. A. Van Antwerp; superintendent of Sunday school, J. M. Dougall.

St. Patrick's Parish, Johnstown. - In the year 1773, a number of Roman Catholic Scotch Highlanders, 200 of whom were of an age to bear arms, settled at Johnstown at the request of Sir William Johnson. They were spiritually attended by the Rev. John McKenna, an Irish priest educated at Lorain University. He was the first resident Roman Catholic priest in this state after the Jesuit missionaries among the Mohawks nearly a century before.

Comparatively strangers in the country, and only speaking the Gaelic language, these Highlanders knew little of the points on which the colonists based their complaints against the English government. At the beginning of the revolution they found themselves denounced as papists and tories. Though ready to draw their claymores once more against their traditional enemy and avenge the defeat of Culloden, they were disarmed by General Schuyler and began to abandon their new homes. Before the spring of 1776 the priest, more obnoxious than his flock, withdrew with a company of 300 to Glengarry, Ontario, Canada.

In 1790 the Rev. Charles Whelan came to Johnstown. He had been chaplain in the French navy on De Grasse's fleet until the end of the revolution, and subsequently established the first Roman Catholic church in New York city. During the first half of the present century the few Roman Catholics in and about Johnstown were visited at intervals by priests from Utica, Albany, and New York and more rarely by the bishop of New York.

In 1850 Johnstown became an established mission and was attended successively by Rev. James O'Sullivan, Jonathan Furlong, J. P. Fitzpatrick, Eugene Carroll, M. E. Clarke and Philip Keveny. 1869 the mission was made a separate parish and Rev. B. McManus appointed pastor. In the same year the present church edifice, located on the glebe, was built. Rev. J. F. Lowery was apppointed pastor in 1876; Rev. P. B. McNulty in 1878, and the present pastor, Rev. P. H. McDermott, in 1884.

There are at present in the parish more than 200 families. The lay trustees of the church are John Doran, treasurer, and John Manion, secretary.

The original parish has been divided, and there are now in Fulton county five Roman Catholic churches, located at Johnstown, Gloversville, Broadalbin, Middlesprite and Bleecker, respectively.

Village of Johnstown Pages, Also see the town of Johnstown

Part 1 - Early General History

Part 2 - Schools, St. John's Episcopal Church and Presbyterian Church of Johnstown

Part 3 - Other Churches

Part 4 - Cemeteries - Historical Society - Utilities - Railroad

Part 5 - Banks, Newspapers, Opera House, Societies.

Part 6 - Glove Manufacturers

Part 7 - Leather Manufacturers - Miscellaneous Manufactures

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