History of Churches in Geneva, NY
SARACUSE, N. Y., 1893


The First Presbyterian church.- On the 16th of July, 1798, a meeting of citizens was held at the Geneva Hotel for the purpose of organizing a church or religious society in the village of Geneva. By a plurality of votes the following persons were elected trustees by the name and style of "The Trustees of the Presbyterian Church of Geneva," to wit: Oliver Whitmore, Elijah Wilder, Septimus Evans, Ezra Patterson, Samuel Latta, William Smith, jr., and Polydore B. Wisner. The first elders were Oliver Whitmore and Elijah Wilder. The organization was accomplished largely through the efforts and under the direction of Rev. Jedediah Chapman, who was the first pastor of the society.

The first church edifice was erected in 1809, and was succeeded by another of larger proportions and more imposing appearance, built in 1839. In 1877 the present large and attractive edifice was built. The church property consists of the main edifice at the corner of the Park and Washington street, a large session-room building standing just north of the church, and a pastor's residence on Washington street in rear of the church.

The First Church now has 420 enrolled communicants and a Sunday school of about 325 pupils. The present church and society officers are Arthur Hammond, Frank O. Kent, William H. Smith, William H. Dobbin, David H. Henry, Edw. B. Richardson, Solomon E. Smith, Eli A. Bronson, Isaac L. Seely and Lucius Van Slycke, elders; John L. Bennett, M. S Sandford, George Travis, F. S. Bronson, James N. Kipp, David H. Patty, Charles H. Darrow, Henry W. Foster and Thomas E. Rippey, deacons; D. H. Patty, T. J. Skelton, William H. Vrooman, Joseph S. Lewis, David H. Henry, Eli A. Bronson, and Solomon E. Smith, trustees.

The succession of pastors has been as follows: Jedediah Chapman, 1800-1812; Henry Axtell, 1812-29; Eliakirn Phelps, 1830-35 ; Philip C. Hay, 1836-46; William Hogarth, 1847-56; Hubbard Winslow, D.D., 1857-59; A. Augustus Wood, D.D., 1860-73; Henry A. Nelson, D.D., 1874-85; Halsey B. Stevenson, 1887-89; William W. Weller, 1890.

The North Presbyterian church of Geneva was formed by a union of the members of the United Presbyterian Church with the Bethel Society of Geneva. The latter was an organization of faithful missionary workers whose field of labor lay especially among the boatmen of the lake and canal and with others who had no fixed church house. By this society a chapel was erected on Exchange street, north of the railroad, and here the meetings were held until the union mentioned was formed. The Bethel Society was organized in 1839, and in 1866 began to maintain preaching in their chapel. Soon after the year last thentioned the members of the United or Scotch Presbyterian Society proposed a union with the Bethel members, which, being accepted, the former secured a dismissal from its connection and asked for admission to the Presbytery of Geneva, which was granted November 1, 1870. The result was the organization of the "Second Presbyterian Church of Geneva," and which afterward became known as the North Presbyterian Church.

The early meetings were held in the Scotch Church edifice, and in 1876 the large and elegant stone edifice was erected at the corner of Genesee and Lewis streets. Its cost was nearly $40,000, about one-half of which was contributed by Thompson C., Henry E., and Joshua I. Maxwell.

The North Church numbers 430 members, with 500 pupils in the Sunday school. The elders of the society are John Mackay, James S. Sears, Thompson C. Maxwell, Stephen W. Hopkins, Theo. S. Hubbard, Charles K. Scoon, John H. Daniels, E. M. Maynard, and George X. Smith. The deacons are John P. Vail, E. B. Van Houghton, William M. Gates, C. W. Haviland, Charles H. Webster, Harry J. Loy, Watson E. Stubbs, Frank P. Skuse, and E M. Maynard.

The first pastoral supply was Henry P. Collin, 1870-71, succeeded by stated supply Alfred C. Roe, the latter remaining two years. Dr. William Hogarth was called to the pastorate in July, 1873, and installed in November. He remained thirteen years and was followed in i886 by Paul Van Dyke, who retired in 1888, and was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. Dr. Ninian B. Remick, the pastorate of the latter beginning in 1890.

Trinity Church. - The parish and society of Trinity Church were organized on the 18th of August, 1806, by former members of the Protestant Episcopal Church of older places. The incorporators were John Nicholas, Daniel W. Lewis, James Rees, James Reynolds, David Nagle, Robert W. Stoddard, John Collins, Robert S. Rose, Samuel Colt, Ralph T. Wood, Richard Hughes, William Hortsen, Thomas Wilbur, Richard M. Bailey, William Tappan, Levi Stephen, Thomas Wood, Richard Lazelere and Thomas Smith. The first wardens were John Nicholas and Daniel W. Lewis, and the vestrymen Samuel Sheckel, John Collins, Robert S. Rose, Richard Hughes, Ralph T. Wood, David Nagle, James Rees and Thomas Powell.

Although the parish and church were not organized until 1806, still earlier services were held, beginning in 1803, under the missionary labors of Rev. Benjamin Phelps, who afterward became the first rector, and who baptized seven children in 1805. The early services were held in the district school-house, and in 1809 the Trinity parish was provided with a church-house. This edifice served the purpose of the society for a period of thirty-six years, and in 1842 the erection of the present splendid edifice was begun, the work being finished in 1844. It was consecrated by Bishop De Lancey August 15, 1844. The edifice has been occasionally repaired, and some improvements have also been made to it, and it stands to-day, notwithstanding its age, one of the finest of the many beautiful church edifices of Geneva.

Trinity has 560 communicants, and its Sunday schpol has 227 pupils. The present wardens are Alexander L. Chew and James P. Mellen; vestrymen, O. J. C. Rose, Henry Slosson, S. H. Hammond, Samuel Southworth, H. Dennison; P. N. Nicholas, Thomas Smith.

The succession of rectors has been as follows: Davenport Phelps, missionary and rector from 1803 to June 27, 1813; Orrin Clark, August 17, 1814, to 1828; Richard S. Mason, D.D., July 6, 1828, to April 26, 1830; Nathaniel F. Bruce, August 4, 1831, to July, 1835; Pierre P Irving, October 26, 1836, as deacon, and as rector May 27, 1837, to 1843; Samuel Cook, D. D., 1843 to 1845; John Henry Hobart, D. D., 1845 to 1847. William Henry Augustus Bissell, D.D., next succeeded to the rectorate as the successor of Dr. Hobart, and was himself succeeded by William Stevens Perry, D.D., LL.D. The next rector of Trinity was Rev. Dr. Henry W. Nelson, whose first service in the church began on Thanksgiving Day, 1876.

St. Peter's Church.- The Rt. Rev. William Heathcoate De Lancey was elected bishop of the Diocese of Western New York in 1838, and in the next year moved to Geneva. He retained a residence in the village until the time of his death, April 5, 1865, and in honor of his life and good works in the mission field and church, St. Peter's was founded and organized as his memorial. As early as 1850 Bishop De Lancey began missionary work in Geneva and soon established a prosperous mission in the north part of the village. In 1852 he began holding services in a small chapel on Genesee street, and becoming owner of the building, he named it St. Peter's in honor of his old parish church at Philadelphia, in which he was advanced to the Episcopate. In 1861 the bishop called Dr. James Rankine to Geneva to assume charge of the Theological Training School, and the latter soon found himself also engaged in the mission work, holding full Sunday service in the chapel. However, it was not until 1867, two years after the death of Bishop De Lancey, that St. Peter's parish and church were organized. The chapel was replaced with a large and elegant stone edifice, the funds therefor being raised by voluntary contribution, and the chief actor in accomplishing all that was done was Dr. Rankine. The church was begun in 1868, and was consecrated May 10, 1870. The tower was built in 1878. The first rector was Dr. James Rankine, who has filled that office until the present time, with the exception of about one year, during which he was president of Hobart College. In this interval Dr. Maunsell Van Rensselaer was rector of St. Peter's.

The church now has 250 communicants and a Sunday-school with about 200 members. The wardens of St. Peter's are Samuel S. Graves and Davis L. Stacy; vestrymen, S. H. Parker, Charles A. Steele, A A. Halsey, Julius R. Roenke, James E. Brown, H. B. Graves, Benjamin Harvey, Peter R. Cole.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Geneva was not in fact organized until the year 1818, although as early as 1793 Methodist preaching services were held in the region, and in 1811 a class of eight members was formed in the village, Mr. Loomis being the first leader. In 1818 the present society was organized by Rev. Ralph .Lanning, the members numbering thirteen persons, who held their meetings in the Mechanic's Society School house on Castle street, on the site where the society afterward built a church edifice. Prior to 1821 Geneva was a mission, and the first house of worship, built on the site mentioned, was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1821.

In 1828 this church was constituted a separate pastoral charge, then having seventy-two white and three colored members. The church on the corner of Maine and Seneca streets was begun in 1839 and finished in 1840, the dedicatory services being held August 15. The original cost of the building was $20,000, and it was substantially rebuilt in 1885 at a considerable expense. The present trustees of the church are Dr. A. B. Smith, George Taylor, A. G. Frisbie, D. P. Nelson and W. I. Bonnett. The present pastor is Rev. R. D. Munger, and the superannuated ministers, D. D. Buck, D.D., and H. T. Giles.

The pastors in succession have been as follows: Manley Tooker, Seth Mattison, John B. Alverson, John W. Nevens, Calvin S. Coats, Elijah Hibbard, Seth Mattison, Wm. P. Davis, F. G. Hibbard, Moses Crane, F. G. Hibbard, O. R. Howard, John Dennis, John G. Gulick, John Raines, Wm. H. Goodwin, T. H. Kellogg, a D. Buck, Thos. Tousey, john W. Wilson, Wm. H. Goodwin, D.D., John Raines, A. F. Morey, George Van Aistyne, A. W. Green, A. J. Kenyon, Robert C. Brownlee (3 terms), T. M. House, Charles H. Wright, John C. Nichols and R. D. Munger, the latter being the present pastor, whose connection with the local church began in 1891. The Geneva M. E. church has 340 members, and a Sunday school with 250 members.

The United Presbyterian Church, by many known as the Scotch church, dated its history in Geneva back as far as 1826, when Rev. D. C. McLaren ordained elders in the old M. E. church on Castle street. In 1830 the society had gained sufficient strength to erect a church house on Castle street, which it continued to occupy until the dissolution of the society and the organization of what is now the North Presbyterian church, with which nearly all the other members (in 1870) united. The supplies, pastors and others connected with the United Presbyterian church, during the period of its existence, were D. C. McLaren, David Currie, J. F. McLaren, T. S. Farrington, W. S. McLaren, J. L. Robertson, D. A. Duff, A. C. Roe.

In connection with the history of this church the statement may be made that the original name of the society was "Associate Reformed Congregation of Geneva," and that in the spring of 1858, by a union of the Associate Presbyterian and Reformed Presbyterian churches at large, the local society became thenceforth known as the United Presbyterian Church of Geneva.

The Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Geneva was organized on the 24th of August, 1831, at a meeting held in the Associated Reformed Presbyterian church on Castle street. The original members numbered nine persons, from whom Peter Dox and John Veader were chosen elders, and John N. Bogert and George Giffing deacons. For about six months worship was held in the red brick building on William street, and afterwards in Masonic Hall, on the site of the present First Presbyterian church chapel, and in 1832 the large and commodious edifice was completed, the edifice being dedicated January 17, 1833. The society continued in existence for a period of nearly sixty years, during that time enjoying successes and meeting with reverses. Its membership began to decline about 1865, and the society was financially weak. The church was indebted to the Collegiate church in New York, which debt fell due when the local society ceased to be a Dutch church. The remedy was pursued, the edifice sold in 1887, and the village became its owner in a year or two afterwards. However, during the year 1890 the property was bought by the Catholic church for the purpose of establishing a branch of that church in the village. The pastors of the Dutch church, from the time of its organization to the final dissolution, were as follows: Revs. Henry Mandeville, Gustavus Abeel, D.D., Rev. C. C. Van Arsddale, D.D., pastoral supply, James Romeyn, D.D., Henry V. Vorhees, Joseph A. Collier, Charles Wiley, D.D., Samuel J. Rogers, William W. Brush, John O. Oppie, Rev. D. D. Buck, D.D., pastoral supply, Wm. H. Nasholds and Dr. Thomas G. Strong, the latter acting as stated supply at the time of the ending of the church's career.

The Universalist Church and Society of Geneva were organized November 8, 1834, and in the next year the church edifice was erected at a cost of about $6,500. The society has never been large, and now has about one hundred and twenty-five members. The pastors have been Revs. Jacob Chase, jr., George Sanderson, Stephen Miles, Oliver Ackley, Z. Cook, Hiram Torrey, L. L. Sadler, E. Case; jr., S. W. Remington, J. Bartlett, John M. Austin, J. F. Countryman, C. C. Richardson, E. S. Corbin, E. E Bartlett, H. B. Howell, C. E. Perkins, O. M. Hilton and J. H. Ballou, the latter being the present pastor. The trustees of the society are W. E. Hayes, M. W. Hemiup, J. A. Barcklay, A. J. Rutheford, H. W. Harris and C. N. Hemiup.

The First Baptist Church of Geneva was organized on the 26th of February, 1826, and on the 5th of March following held its first covenant meeting. On April 1 thereafter Elder E. W. Martin was chosen as the first pastor. There were twenty. five original members. The first meeting-house was erected in 1829, and to it substantial repairs were made in 1849. In 1867 the comfortable frame edifice on Milton street was built, but during recent years the growth of the society has been such as to require the erection of a large house of worship; consequently a lot at the corner of North Main and Lewis streets was secured, upon which there is in course of erection an elegant brick and stone edifice, which from an architectural standpoint is not surpassed by any similar structure in the village.

The church now has about 350 members, and in the Sunday school are 200 pupils. The succession of pastors of the Geneva Baptist church has been as follows: Elders E. W. Martin, Norman Bentley, S. Davison, J. Sears, W. B. Miller, Wm. W. Smith, John Middleton, Edward Tozer, W. T. Purrington, Elder Lawton, W. T. Parish, Elder Carpenter (supply), B. B. Gibbs, T. S. Hill, M. S. Goodno, J. Byington Smith, Dr. David D. Moore, Donald Grant, Walter Barse and Brewer G. Boardman,' the latter being the present pastor of the church.

St. Francis De Sales Church (Roman Catholic).- The parish and church was organized in 1832 under the direction of Bishop Du Bois, and in the same year a church edifice was built. In 1858 Rev. James McManus became pastor, and under his ministry the attendance was so greati. increased that a new edifice became necessary. Accordingly, in 1864 the present large structure was built at a cost of about $30,000. Father McManus continued pastor of this church until the time of his death, June 28, 1890, and on July 26 of the same year, was succeeded by Father Wm. A. McDonald.

In 1875 Father McManus established St. Francis De Sales Parochial school, a very worthy and thorough institution, now numbering 500 pupils in attendance. This school is admirably conducted by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The Evangelical Association of Geneva was organized in 1873, the first pastor being John Reuber. No church house was provided until 1885, when the neat brick edifice on Main street was erected. The Association has eighty-six members, and a Sabbath school with seventy-five attendants. The pastors, in succession, have been John Reuber, Charles Weisman, Jacob Burghart, A. Schlenk, David Fischer, Jacob Vosseller, Louis Heinmiller, Frederick Lohmeyer and Andrew Holzwarth.

A Free Church for the colored worshipers of all denominations was erected on High street as early as 1825 or '26. This building was burned, and a new church was built in 1892. It has no present resident pastor.

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