By Kathryn Hall | February 1, 2009
The following excerpt is from History of Chenango and Madison Counties, New York by James H. Smith, published in 1880. These notes shed light not only on the religious interests of Luke Hall and his wife, Ruby (Pease) Hall and on their son, Erastus Gilbert Hall, and also provide a tiny glimpse into the general climate and concerns of the times. It is through such vehicles as these notes that we begin to shed light into the lives of our early ancestors, whereupon they begin to transcend the strictly factual data so often associated with genealogical research. KH
CHURCHES.—The First Congregational Church in Smyrna.—The first religious meetings in Smyrna were held in a school-house that stood near the site of the present Congregational church. In the year 1816 there was a powerful revival of religion in connection with these school-house meetings. Preaching was obtained for the few weeks of the revival interest. A better school-house was built in which, June 26, 1824, the First Congregational church in Smyrna was organized. The original members were as follows, viz: Marsena Allen, John Strew, Julius Wood, George J. Hammond, Chester Hammond, Elihu Pettis, Deborah Pettis, Rodger Case, Mercy Case, John Percival, Ruth Percival, John Percival, Jr., Lois Youngs, Timothy Leonard, Asenath Leonard, Satira Hammond, George Hammond, Elijah Sexton, Rhoda Sexton, Deborah F. Pettis, Fanny Hammond, Asenath Wood, Reuby Hall, Bersheba Carver, Miranda Strew and Mary Packard. These, except the last one mentioned, came from the Second Congregational church in Sherburne, located on West Hill. At the formation of the church, Rev. Samuel Manning, of Sherburne, presided as moderator, and Rev. Nathaniel Latham, of Hamilton, preached the sermon. John Percival and Timothy Leonard were chosen to serve as deacons for the first communion, and Chester Hammond was chosen clerk of the church. At the first communion season Sarah Hunt, Sally Hunt, Mary Talcott, Polly Sutliff and Hannah G. Allen were received by letter from the West Hill church. Having no minister, John Percival was chosen as standing moderator of all church meetings. All the meetings were held in the district school-house till a house of worship could be built. In August, 1826, the frame for a meeting house was raised, and the house was completed in the following year. In December, 1827, the funeral of Mr. John Munson, one of those who contributed toward the building of the house of worship, was held in the unfinished building. January 20, 1828, the house was dedicated, Rev. Lyman Rexford, of Sherburne, preaching the sermon on the occasion.
The church has numbered 521 communicants on its roll of members.
The first deacons of this church were Chester Hammond and Marsena Allen. Succeeding these were Isaac Foote, Jr., William W. Chapman, Amasa Foote, Gardiner J. Kenyon and Julius Wood.
The present deacons are Levi B. Collins and Nathaniel T. Ferris.
The following is a list of the pastors and their term of service:—
Ezra Woodworth, Aug. 1824, to May, 1825.
Luther Clark, April, 1826, to April, 1828.
Charles E. Avery, May, 1828, to Aug. 1830.
Samuel Manning, April, 1831, to Feb., 1832.
Elias Childs, Nov., 1832, to Sept., 1834.
Sidney Mills, Oct., 1834, to April, 1839.
Lemuel Pomeroy, Feb., 1840, to April, 1852.
David F. Judson, April, 1853, to May, 1857.
M. C. Bronson, Nov., 1857, to April, 1860.
Andrew Huntington, June, 1860, to Sept., 1861.
Charles Barstow, Feb., 1862, to Sept., 1862.
Archibald Crawford, Dec., 1862, to March, 1863.
John H. Nason, Oct., 1863, to March, 1866.
Seneca M. Keeler, June, 1866, to Sept., 1870.
Henry M. Grant, Nov., 1870, to Oct., 1871.
Henry Carpenter, Feb., 1872, to April, 1873.
Charles C. Johnson is the present pastor. He began his labors with this church Jan. 3d, 1874.
During the pastorate of Mr. Keeler, the society enlarged and remodeled their house of worship at a cost of $3,500. During the ministry of Mr. Grant the manse was freed from debt and presented to the society. In 1873 the society repaired and reseated their chapel. In the summer of 1879 the church edifice was thoroughly renovated, calcimined and painted. The society keep out of debt and pay their pastor’s salary promptly.
H. M. Dixon is superintendent of the Sabbath School, and has superintended a mission Sunday School at Central Smyrna for the past 25 years. Deacon N. T. Ferris is Superintendent of the South Smyrna Sabbath School. 11
Following are notes from the Minutes of the Annual Meeting by General Association of the State of New York, Presbyterian Church, September, 1865.
The General Association of the Congregational Churches of the State of New York, held its Thirty-second Annual Meeting with the Congregational Church of Oswego, commencing on Tuesday, September 19th, 1865 at 10 o’clock, A. M.
The meeting was called to order by the Register, and was organized by the choice of Rev. Milton Badger, D.D., of New York as Moderator…The Moderator opened the meeting with prayer…The Roll was made out as follows…
Delegates from Churches
Smyrna–Bro. Erastus G. Hall
Ministers Associated with General Association
J. H. Nason–ordained Sept. 10, 1862–Smyrna, Chenango Co, occupation–Stated Supply.
Report from the Oneida Association
This Association numbers, on the Annual Record, 24 Churches; two of which it is said belong not to the Accociation; and seven or eight others are without preaching; and several of them have only a nominal existence. There is not settled Pastor within the bounds of this Association.
No revivals are reported to have occurred within the Association; but the Sabbath Schools are for the most part flourishing. The Register concludes his Report thus: “War news is more attractive than any other. Efforts to relieve hardships and sufferings of our soldiers, share very general attention. Our country’s wrongs and our country’s woes, take a deep hold on the feelings of the community, and much indignation is felt at the course of treason and rebel sympathy in our midst. Yet, we expect our covenant God will bring us safely through the furnace into which we are cast, and at the termination of this struggle, we shall see religion more properous than ever.”