" Our terrible Civil War occurred during Dr. Gregory's pastorate, and he says of those trying times, `The Lord was very good to this church. On the day after the firing upon Sumter, at the suggestion of the pastor, two ladies, both of whom are now with us, made a flag (for none could be
bought), and the dawn of the Sabbath saw it floating from the top of the steeple, where it stayed until whipped into shreds.
The text of that morning was Psalm xx. 5-7, " We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners; the Lord fulfill all thy petitions. Now know I that the Lord saveth his annointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God."
"`The church never wavered in its loyalty, the pulpit gave no uncertain sound, and yet such was the goodness of God that, while the congregation was made up of men whose opinions were of all shades, even to the most opposite extremes, yet there was no interruption of harmony and not a single man forsook the service. The church contributed constantly to the wants of the army, and gave to it the young men whom she felt least able to spare; but she followed them with her prayers, and in His good mercy He who hears prayer brought nearly all of them back, honored, safe, beloved.' Two brave boys from the Sunday School, Barton Harvey and John R. Stewart, did not return."
From Bridgeton, N. J., Dr. Gregory was called to a professorship in Lincoln University at Oxford, Pa., where he remained until his death, which occurred February 26, 1882. He was fifty-eight years of age. His last visit to Oneida was in November, 1879.
On March 23, 1857, Dr. Earl Loomis was elected deacon, he being the third and last one elected to that office in our church.
On February 7, 1864, after much deliberation it was resolved, That the members of the church be called together on the 8th inst., at ten o'clock
A. M., to decide the propriety of letting all female members of the church have a right to vote in the election of elders.
The meeting of the male members of the church was held on the 8th inst. and the right of suffrage (as above) was extended to women.
For a number of years up to 1861 persons renting pews were required to give their notes for the price of the same, these being payable half July 1, the balance January 1, following.
If these notes ran overdue ten days five per cent. was added.
In 1857 the church was enlarged by adding a vestibule in front, and throwing open the old one as a part of the audience room.
Our pastor, Rev. Mr. Gregory, having built a house for himself, in 1860 the parsonage was sold to Mr. C. A. Walrath.
On August 25, 1864, a call was extended to Rev. Charles E. Robinson of Woodbury, Conn., to be our pastor.
Mr. Robinson accepted the call. He first met with the session December 1, 1864. He was installed by the presbytery of Mohawk at a meeting held in our church March 1, 1865.
The installation sermon was preached by Rev. R. W. Condit, D. D., of Oswego.
Charge to the pastor by Rev. Samuel M. Campbell, D. D., of Utica. Charge to the people, Rev. F. Filmore of Syracuse.
Rev. Mr. Robinson was our pastor until July 30, 1867, when he resigned to accept a call from the Second Presbyterian Church of Troy, N. Y.
No change was made in the session while Mr. Robinson was here. In his two and one-half years the membership of the church increased from 116 to 174, a gain of 58; 42 united on profession of faith and 41 by letter, a total of 83, while 25 were dismissed. The amount contributed for benevolent purposes during that period was
$685.14, an average of $229 per year, and $8264 was raised for congregational purposes.
Besides this our present parsonage was built in 1866. The contract price with J. A. Frost for the erection of the building was $2460. The total cost, however, was $3085.09, of which amount about
$1500 was raised by subscription, while the balance was the proceeds of a mortgage which the church had held against the former parsonage.
In 1864, just at the beginning of Mr. Robinson's pastorate, quite extensive repairs were made on the church. The building was lengthened out, the old sheds were removed from the rear, and in their place was built the session room (now used as the emergency room). The old box seats were torn out and more modern ones put in their place. The walls were frescoed. The old stoves and the long pipes were discarded; and a wood-burning furnace was put in, all this being done at an expense of $2023.45. Certainly while Mr. Robinson was here the people had a mind to give, for in two and one-half years $12,472.59 was raised, an average of about $5000 per year. This was very soon after the war, and the people were made liberal by its stimulating influences.
At a meeting of the society held in February, 1867, it was resolved, That we as a church are more than satisfied with our pastor, Rev. Charles F. Robinson. From Troy Mr. Robinson was called to the First Presbyterian Church of Rochester.
He is now pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Scranton, Pa.
At a meeting of the congregation held October 7, 1867, Rev. George D. Baker of the Stone Street Presbyterian Church, Watertown, N. Y., was elected pastor. He was installed by the presbytery of Mohawk December 3, 1867. Installation sermon by the Rev. Dr. Condit of Oswego.
Charge to the pastor, Rev. Dr. Strong. Charge to the people, Rev. James A. Worden, D. D., now superintendent of Sabbath school and missionary work.
Dr. Baker remained with us until July 28, 1871, when he resigned to accept a call from the First Presbyterian Church of Detroit, Mich.
One change was made in the session while he was here. On July 26, 1868, A. Wayne Barker was ordained elder. The membership of the church increased from 174 to 225, 42 having been received on profession of faith and 63 by letter, in all 105, while 54 were dismissed. The Sunday school attained a membership of 250. The liberality of the church had not grown less, for during this three and one-half years there was contributed for benevolent purposes upward of $1500, and for congregational uses $12,097.10, a total of $13,600.
In 1869 two large reflectors were placed in the ceiling of the church at an expense of $250.
Pipes were also put in and other fixtures for the use of gas. In 1868 a barn was built and other improvements made at the parsonage, involving
an expense of $948.63, of which amount Rev. Mr. Baker contributed $563.63.
From Detroit Dr. Baker was called to his present position as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.
At a meeting of the society held October 26, 1871, Rev. William N. Page of Amenia, N. Y., was elected pastor, and a committee appointed to present and prosecute a call. Mr. Page accepted, but subsequently, for reasons stated by him, and approved by the church, he withdrew his acceptance.
On the evening of March 26, 1872, Rev. Samuel Jessup of Dansville, N. V., was elected pastor. He began his work here on Sunday, May 5, 1872.
He was installed at the evening session of the presbytery
of Utica, convened in our church Tuesday, September 10, 1872. Installation sermon by
Rev. S. P. Sprecher of Utica. Charge to the pastor, Rev. T. B. Hudson, D. D., of Clifton. Charge to the people, Rev. Peter
Stryker, D. D., of Rome. On May 5 last he had served this people as pastor
twenty-two years. The following persons have assisted him in the work as elders : Robert J. Stewart, Alonzo Randall, A. Wayne Barker, Goodwin P. Soper, Myron M. Allen, Jacob Winnie, William H. Carter, Ambrose W. Hill, Elverton C. Stark, Charles B. Cowles, Richard B. Ruby, Miles Upson, William
M. Baker, Julius J. Smith.
The membership of the church has increased from 225 to 534, the number enrolled at the present time. During these twenty-two years 424 persons have united with the church on profession of their faith, and 252 have been received by letters from other churches, making 676 accessions in all, an average of 31 per year.
In the same period the amount given to benevolent objects has been $17,639.26. an average of $801.80 per year. During the last eight years, when we have been working under the Systematic Pledge plan, the average amount of benevolent contributions has been $1137.05 per year, an average gain over that of the previous fourteen years of $524.70.
The amount raised for congregational purposes during the twenty-two years has been $65,324, an average of
$2970. Besides this, in 1883-84 our new church was erected at cost of $27,654.47, and the lot cost $4000, a total of
$31654.47. Of this amount $23,711.50 was raised by subscription, and $7680 from the sale of the old church property.
The balance of $262.97 was taken from the general fund.
In the year 1872 at the February meeting of the congregation we began the system of selling the church
pews at auction. This method of raising money to pay expenses was continued fifteen years, until February 7, 1887, when we voted to make the seats free, and to raise the necessary funds by subscription. The free pew system ran through four years, until February, 1891, when we revived the auction sale, and the seats were knocked down to the highest bidder.
At the last February meeting the holders of pews were allowed to retain their seats at their appraised value, and the unclaimed ones were then sold at the same rate.
This church during its whole existence of fifty years has had only five pastors. Nearly one-half of that time has been covered by the pastorate of Dr. Jessup, while Dr. Gregory's extended over a little more than one-quarter of the time, leaving the other one-quarter to be divided between the other three pastors.
I divide the fifty years as follows:
Rev. James Nichols, 6 years, 4 months, 17 days.
Supplies, 6 months, 20 days.
Rev. C. R. Gregory, D. D., 12 years, 9 months, 10 days.
Supplies, 9 months.
Rev. C. E. Robinson, D. D., 2 years, 8 months.
Supplies, 2 months, 7 days.
Rev. George I). Baker, 1). D., 3 years, 9 months, 23 days.
Supplies, 9 months, 5 days.
Rev. Samuel Jessup, D. D., 22 years, 1 month, 8 days.
As to these five ministers of the gospel it may truly be said that in each case the relationship between pastor and people has been characterized by an unusual degree of harmony and affectionate regard. More than an ordinary measure of prosperity has attended the labors of these faithful servants of God among us.
Our history has been one of uninterrupted growth and advancement, as indicated by the figures given in this
sketch. Our church has been active in missionary work. The first missionary society of which I find any record was one organized from the Sunday school in 1851 at the beginning of Dr. Gregory's pastorate by Mr.
Romain Fiske. This society held monthly meetings for seven years. It divided its attention and money equally between the home and foreign fields, and considering the difficulties under which it labored it
did good work. It numbered among its members such persons as Seymour E. Douglass, Alonzo Randall, John E. Stone.
The Woman's Missionary Society was organized in the spring of 1873, the second year of Dr. Jessup's pastorate. Its first meeting was held in the session room of the old church. Later meetings were held at the houses of the members. Now they are held in our session room on the first Monday of each month. The first president was Mrs. Mary A. Seeley, who occupied the position many years. Its first secretary was Mrs. Win. Baker. Among the original members were Mrs. J. Newell Avery, Mrs. M. M. Allen, Mrs. Wm. H. Carter, Mrs. Florence Loomis Stark, Mrs. Dr. Spooner, all of whom are dead. Among those now living are Mrs. Samuel Jessup, Mrs. Addie Crumb, Mrs. Alonzo Randall, Mrs. Jacob Winnie.
In 1881 this society was reorganized, at which time Mrs. Wilber F. Leete was made president. She is now serving her thirteenth year in that position. The other officers are Mrs. Samuel Jessup, vice president; Mrs. Frank Chapin, secretary; Miss Georgie Bull, treasurer. At first they gave their attention mostly to the foreign fields, but later it has been equally divided between the home and foreign.
This society now numbers sixty members.
The disbursements to various objects during the Vast year amounted to $255, which is a fair average. There
is a very efficient branch of this society which confines itself exclusively to caring for the poor of our own church. This department is offered as follows: Mrs. Dr. E. P. Bailey, president; Mrs. Dr. E. J. Stone, secretary; Mrs. Win. E. Douglas, treasurer. During last year upward of
$225 was dispensed by them among those in need of help.
At the parsonage on July 1, 1875, a society was organized called the Missionary Circle of Little Workers. Its work was carried on under the direction of Mrs. Newell J. Abbott. Its first president was Emma Crawford; secretary and treasurer, Anna Carter. They met once a month, and a musical and literary programme was rendered at each meeting, and money was raised by them to be used in the cause of missions. Much work was done for the poor by this circle in the line of making bed quilts, sheets, pillow cases, and other clothing. I quote from their secretary's book : " Bright, beautiful evening. Good attendance. Received
$8.14. Christmas offerings by members consisting of tea, sugar, bread, buckwheat, calico, etc., were distributed by the little girls to three families as Christmas gifts. Kindly received by them, and made glad the hearts of the givers."
Some of these little workers were Alice Baker, Kitty Jacobs, Addie Rockwell, Emma Ayres, Lillie Lawrence, Jennie Seeley, May Chapin, Nellie Merrick, Birdie
Atherly, Matte Klock. This society continued its existence for over five years.
A missionary band, made up of girls from the Sunday school who call themselves the King's Messengers, was organized in 1889 under the direction of Mrs. WV. F. Leete. They devote their services to both home and foreign missionary work. Its officers are Gertrude Randall, president; Lillie May Douglass, vice president; Daisy Winnie, secretary; Clara Phillips, treasurer.
It numbers thirty-five members. Since their organization five years ago they have raised over one hundred dollars, which has been divided equally between the two fields. They also render very valuable service in other ways.
A mission sewing school, the members of which are called the Willing Workers, has been organized by Mrs. D.
D. McNair's Bible class of young ladies. This school assembles every Saturday afternoon in the church parlors, and a large number of children are there taught how to make various articles of clothing which are distributed among the needy. They are now engaged in filling a barrel to be sent to Asheville, N. C. It is a grand work. This society invites inspection.
The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor of our church was organized May 6, 1894, with eighty-five charter members. Its first officers were F. N. Moulton, president; Anna E. Ostrander, vice president; William M. Baker, secretary; Lillian Walrath, treasurer. It holds its meetings every Sunday one hour previous to evening service. They are uniformly well attended, and are interesting and helpful. Through its various committees it renders valuable aid to the church in all its departments of labor. It has not only greatly assisted in the growth of this church, but it has extended its labors to other fields. Sunday schools have been conducted by this society in Merrillsville, Wampsville, Lenox Basin, Oneida Valley, and on the north side of the railroad. The school last mentioned meets in the schoolhouse of that district, and there are indications manifest there which warrant us in attempting to give permanency to the work in that locality by building a chapel.
A lot for this purpose has been donated to us by C. W.
Chappell and Benjamin E. Chase. It is located on North Broad Street. An effort is now being made to raise money enough to build this chapel as a memorial offering commemorative of this fiftieth anniversary of our church. This Young People's Society has already raised one hundred dollars for this purpose, and they have assumed the responsibility of carrying on this north side work. This society gave to the church the piano new used in the session room, and last year they sent fifty dollars to the Boys' Industrial School at Asheville, N. C, Its present officers are J. E. Brewer, president; Mrs. Frank Chapin, vice president; Miss Addie Rockwell, secretary; Miss Libbie Ash, treasurer.
The society now has 140 active members and 35 associate members.
We have always been proud of our Sunday school. Its birth antedates that of the church by about one year, and from it the church throughout its whole existence has drawn much of its force and vitality. In 1843 it was organized, and held its sessions in the reading room on Mill Street near Blodgett's Tavern.
After the church was completed in 1844 the school was removed to that building. For a number of years it was held only during the summer months. When Rev. Mr. Gregory came in
1851 we commenced holding Sunday school every Sunday of the year between the morning and afternoon service. In those days we held no church service Sunday evening. Since its first organization our Sunday school has had a steady and a healthy growth. In 1844 its membership was 35; in 1864 it was 150; in 1866 it was
190; in 1875 it was 280; at present we have on the roll a little over 400 names, and all of these have a live, active connection with the school. The present
system of numbering allows of no "dead timber." We have no retired list.
The average attendance thus far in 1894 has been 326. The following persons have occupied the position of superintendent : Jeremiah Cooper, E. R. Willard, J. E. Crain, Edmund Hills, Rev. C. R. Gregory, Romain Fiske, Goodwin P. Soper (who filled the position very acceptably for more than twenty years), Alonzo Randall, Ambrose W. Hill, and Charles H. Parsons.
The first assistant superintendent was Charles B. Cowles; following him came Wm. M. Baker, Howard L. Baldwin, Frank P.
Klock, Miss Clara A. Parker, and Lewis Quackenbush.
The Primary Department was organized by Miss Addie E. Soper (now Mrs. L. T. Sherrill) in 1859.
She was its superintendent for a number of years. Her successors in that office have been Florence Loomis, Sarah Taylor, Mrs. I. N. Messinger,
E. C. Stark, Mrs. Samuel Jessup, Mrs. Charles H. Parsons, Miss Georgie Bull. In
1892 was inaugurated the star system for encouraging regular attendance. Every class whose members are all present is allotted a star. The class receiving the most stars during the year has the banner for the succeeding year. ''his system is now in use with good results.
A very important branch of our school is called the Home Department, which was started July 1, 1893, with a membership of forty.
Mrs. Ella Holliday was its first superintendent, she serving in that position only three months when she resigned. The department began its work with eight visitors, who went from house to house to distribute Lesson Leaves, and to encourage Bible study among those who cannot attend the regular Sunday school. Each member is required to study the lesson at least thirty minutes a week. Mrs. Holliday was succeeded by Miss Clara A. Parker as superintendent.
The number of visitors is now fifteen and the membership has increased to 225, thus making our department to rank among the largest in the State, if indeed it is not now the largest.
During the nine months of its existence it has added
$35.25 to the benevolent fund of the Sunday school. All this indicates good management on the part of Miss Parker and the fifteen visitors.
In 1874 a series of union revival meetings was held in the various churches of Oneida under the direction of the evangelists Rev. Mr. Patterson and wife. A good work was done. At the June communion following these meetings forty-one persons were received into our church. In 1877 Rev. Mr. Mingins, evangelist, conducted similar meetings, when twenty-four were received into this church.
In 1884 the churches were assisted in the work by the evangelist Rev. Mr. Davidson with still greater results, as eighty persons were received into this church at its subsequent June communion. The next evangelist to labor among us was Rev. Mr. Dean, in March,
1890, at which time we also received large additions to the church.
In 1853 John Albert Winterick, a German boy, came to Oneida in search of employment.
He made his home with Mr. Asel Randall (father of Alonzo). He united with this church August 30, 1855.
Later manifesting a desire to enter the ministry, he was educated for that calling by this church, pursuing his studies in Lafayette College and Princeton Theological Seminary.
He is now pastor of a church in Geneseo, Ill. Other persons who in their younger
days were with us in the Sunday school, and who became members of this church, and who went out from among us to preach the gospel or to labor as missionaries, are Rev. Willis Phelps, now pastor of the Presbyterian Church at
Marengo, Ia.; Rev. Wm. S. Carter, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Waterloo, N. Y.; Rev. Edward M. Knox and his two sisters, who are home missionaries in Utah.
At a meeting of the session held September 5, 1893, Miss Henrietta Barker was appointed as Dr. Jessup's assistant in pastoral work. Miss Barker consented to serve in that position without salary.
Those of this fold who are now living may look back over the past fifty years, and rejoice in the fact that God has used this church in the accomplishment of so great a work.
Beginning as we did in so small a way as to numbers, having for much of the time such limited financial resources, and being in so sparsely settled a community, so circumstanced we are able to show grand results. What, then, ought we not to expect from another half century's labors, entering upon it as we do so well equipped as to numbers, as to wealth, as to facilities for labor ? And comparing our condition now with what it was fifty years ago, we may well ask ourselves, What will God require at our hands ? May the blessing of God attend us as we go out to meet future responsibilities !
Following the history Rev. Dr. Jessup read letters from Rev. Joshua H.
McIlvaine, D. D., LL. D., one of the organizers of the church; Rev. Charles E. Robinson, D.
D., third pastor of the church; Mrs. Mary L. Gregory, widow of Rev. Casper R, Gregory,
D. D., second pastor of the church; Revs. Albert J. Winterick, Willis B. Phelps, C. W. Livingston, E. M. Knox, all former members of the church; Rev. Albert S. Bacon, recently pastor of the Cochran Memorial Presbyterian Church at Oneida Castle;
Mrs. Isabella MacDonald Alden, wife of Rev. Gustavus R. Alden, and better known as "Pansy"; and Edward B.
Taylor, so well remembered by many of our citizens. He also announced the receipt of letters from William H. Gregory, a son of the second pastor; Rev. Anson J. Upson, D. D., LL. D., Rev. Willis J. Beecher, D. D., Rev. Arthur S. Hoyt, D. D., Rev. Edwin H. Dickenson, Rev. Levi Parsons,
D. D., Rev. Charles S. Richardson, D. D., Rev. F. M. Townsend, Rev. William P. F. Ferguson, Mrs. Emma A. Bently, Mrs. Polly Eldred, Sarah E. Rollo, Elverton C. Stark, Rev. George Hubbard Payson, Rev. Charles F. Janes, and others.
Source: The Semi-Centennial of the
Presbyterian Church of Oneida, N. Y., June 13, 1894, Published by the Church.