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ONTARIO  COUNTY: 1900-1999

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( 1948 )

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From: A History of Ontario County, New York by Charles F. Milliken
(New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1911)

406                               HISTORY  OF  ONTARIO  COUNTY.                              



Originally a Part of the Town of Farmington -- Became a Separate Civil Division in the Year 1821 -- Earlier Town Meetings -- Patriotism of Its Citizens in the War of Independence, the War of 1812, and the Civil War -- The Birthplace of Mormonism -- Villages of Clifton Springs, Shortsville, and Manchester.


Originally Manchester was geographically known as Township 12, Range 2, being at that time part of the town or district of Farmington. Later, in the year 1821, March 31, a township was set off and called Burt. This was changed to Manchester on April 16, 1822. The land was purchased by Phelps and Gorham of the Old Bay State at the nominal sum of four cents per acre. They paid for it in Colonial securities, which were worth about one-half of their par value, making the real cost something less than two cents per acre.

The second road to be built on the Phelps and Gorham Purchase was surveyed in 1785 and was opened for travel in the year 1788, extending from Canandaigna to Manchester village, the latter place being the head of navigation for flat boats on the Canandaigua outlet. It was natural that the first settlements should be made along this route. Accordingly we find that in 1793, Joab Gillett, Stephen Jared, and Joel Phelps were the first white men to settle here. Jared and Phelps remained only a short time, so to Joab Gillett belongs the honor of being the first true pioneer of the town of Manchester. The first log house was built by him near the site of the present Baptist church. Mere in the following year was celebrated the first marriage, his daughter, Ruth, becoming the wife of Sharon Booth, the second permanent settler.

The third and last person to arrive in 1794 was Deacon John

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McLouth. He was connected with the early religious movements of the town and in his barn was held the very first religious meetings. He is also credited with erecting and operating the first cider mill.

Soon other settlers found their way to this forest home. From the year 1794 to 1800 we find many familiar names that have helped to make the history of Ontario county. Among the best known are Nathan Pierce, John McLouth, John Van Fleet, Sharon Booth, Benjamin Barney, Jedediah Dewey, William Mitchell, Peleg Redfield, Hooker and Joseph Sawyer, Ebenezer Pratt, John Lamunion, Gilbert Howland, Elihu Osgood, William Stafford, Thomas Harrington, Jeremiah Hart, Jacob Rice, Ananias Wells, Luke Phelps, and Bezaliel Coats.

Among the well known families that located permanently in the early part of the twentieth century, we find the names of the Grangers, Shekels, Throops, Bushes.

The first supervisor was Joshua Van Fleet. He also was a member of the Legislature from Ontario county, in 1812 and again in 1814. Owing to the fact that Manchester and Farmington were one township for several years and that they held their town meetings together, naturally the very early officers fell to the honor of being recorded in the archives of Farmington. In 1801 Manchester and Farmington held their joint meeting at the home of William Clarke, but it was at this meeting that it was "voted that our town meetings from this time forward, to be held at the school house near Nathan Pierce's." This change held good only for the years 1802 and 1803, and in 1804 the first town meeting in either town or village which was ever held within the limits of Manchester was held at the home of Ebenezer Pratt. Its stay there was a brief one, for in 1806 it was again held in the Pierce neighborhood, at the old Squires house, instead of the school house. This unsettled town meeting again found its way back to the house of Ebenezer Pratt and there it remained for a term of years. It was opened there in 1815 and then adjourned to a shop owned by M. and R. Buck. This shop continued to be the political headquarters for a space of three years, when the Pratt influence again manifested itself and Ebenezer's tavern was once again the spot where our pioneer suffragists were wont to congregate. In 1818 the meeting was held at Nathan Barlow s store.

In the succeeding year, 1819, the voters, it would seem, must

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have been somewhat fastidious as to where they should exercise their right of suffrage, for we read "at the annual town meeting, held in the village of Manchester the sixth day of April, 1819, it was opened at the store where the town meeting was held last year, and adjourned to the chamber in the hotel, and opened and adjourned down into the lower room, and there opened, and the following persons were chosen," etc.

The electors first assembled at the hotel in Manchester village in 1820, when it was voted that the town meeting adjourn forthwith, to meet at the woolen manufactory in said town. The last town meeting of the joint district, held in 1821, went through the same programme of assembling at the hotel and adjourning to the woolen factory.

The question of dividing the town had been under consideration by the settlers for some years previous to this. These questions always cause difference of opinion and this one proved no exception to the rule. There arose parties for and against the proposed division, and at the town meeting in 1816 the proposition was brought to a vote, for the minutes of the meeting read that "a vote was taken to divide the town of Farmington on the center line between the two elevens running north and south, and was negatived." Those in favor of the scheme, however, constantly agitated the question of separation, and in 1817 it was again submitted to a vote, "on the motion of Mr. Elias Deming." It is recorded that the electors present, actihg on this motion, "went out of the house and divided themselves into two divisions, whereupon it was decided against the division by a large majority."

Again in 1818, an attempt was evidently made to divide the town, for we find this clause in the records, "and a notification for a division of the town was read," but there is no record that it came to a vote at this meeting. Possibly the adherents of the division became discouraged, for they made no effort to bring the much disputed question up at the meeting in 1819.

But the proposition continued to grow in popular favor, for it appears that early in the year 1820, it became necessary to call a special town meeting for another consideration of the subject. This meeting was held at the hotel in Manchester on the 15th day of January, 1820, and the vote was taken by ballot and again resulted adversely to the scheme. But it had evidently developed considerable strength and its advocates brought the matter of its

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adoption up again at the regular town meeting in April, 1820, when it was again voted on and again defeated.

So many defeats evidently lent zest to the situation, and to conquer became the fixed determination of the advocates of division. Accordingly they applied to the Legislature and on the 31st of March, 1821, an act was passed by that body entitled "An act to divide the town of Farmington, in the County of Ontario." After designating the dividing line, it was enacted that the territory lying to the east of the same "Be, and it hereby is, erected into a separate town by the name of Burt; and the first town meeting in said town so erected shall be held at the district school house in said town, near David Howland s dwelling house."

The fact that this act had become a law was not communicated to the electors of the old town at the time of the town nieeting in April, for the minutes of said meeting state that they voted to adjourn and that the meeting "should be held at the hotel in the village of Manchester, in the ensuing year."

As another historian has written, "by this brilliant piece of political strategy, i. e., the secret invoking of legislative aid, did Mr. Deming and his allies secure the ends for which they had labored so long and diligently."

The new township was called Burt, after a member of the Legislature, not, however, a representative of Ontario county, and he was probably instrumental in securing the passage of the bill. This name failed to please the citizens, however, and aroused a bone of contention, so they again applied to the Legislature, and on Apiil 16, 1822, it was enacted, "that from and after the passing of this act, the town of Burt, in the County of Ontario, shall be called and known by the name of Manchester."

As the statute had designated, the one and only town meeting of the town of Burt was held at the school house near David Howland's. At the same place, in 1823, the first town meeting of the town of Manchester convened. Here again it would have met in 1824, but according to the record the school house was not inhabitable, for it reads:

"Manchester, 6th April, 1824.    
"The annual town meeting in and for the town of Manchester, was opened agreeable to adjournment on the rewins [sic - ruins?] of the old school hous, and foP want of shelter was adjourned to Peter Williams' Barn."

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The following year, 1825, the town meeting took place at "The new dwelling house of Joshua K. King," known as the King tavern, located on the road that the State surveyed in 1814 from Phelps to Victor, a building that is still standing just east of the "Poplar Corners."

The next year, 1826, the meeting was taken to the house of John Coon, where after its many wanderings in various parts of the town it came to stay, until an act of the Legislature shattered into pieces, as has been written, the old town meeting of former times, and spread the fragments thereof over the villages of Manchester, Clifton Springs, and Port Gibson, thus covering them over with that mantle of fadeless glory, the lus4er of which has, we fear, departed from Coonsville forever."

At the first town meeting of Burt or Manchester, the names of the principal officers elected were as follows: Supervisor, Joshua Van Fleet; clerk, Gahazi Granger; assessors, Thomas Kingsley, David Howland, and Peter Mitchell; collector, William Popple; commissioners of highways, Jacob Cost, Carlos Harmon, and Nicholas lowland; overseers of the poor, Titus Bement and James Harland; constables, William Popple, Robert Spear and John Schutt; commissioners of common schools, Addison N. Buck, Azel Throop, and George Redfield; inspectors of common schools, Carlos Harmon, Peter Mitchell, and Leonard Short.

David Howland held the office of supervisor in 1823, '24, '25, and in 1826 was succeeded by Peter Mitchell, Esq. During these same years, including 1826, Mr. Granger was continually re-elected as town clerk. At this time the assessors of the town were Peter Mitchell, who held the office for three years iii succession, Robert McCollum who served one year, Nicholas Howland four years, Jacob Cost three years, and Nathan Pierce one year. William Popple was elected collector in 1823, and in 1825 this office was held by Gilbert V. Crane. The following two years, 1824-26, this honor fell to John Schutt. John Pratt served as overseer of the poor for two years in this time, and Titus Bement for two years. Jedediah Dewey and Nathan Pierce also served for the same length of time.

During the twenty-five years of the political period of the old town of Farnington, what is now the town of Manchester supplied the greater share of the officers. It gave town clerk for sixteen years, commissioners of highways for fourteen years, assessors for twelve years, with the exception of an interregnum of one year,

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poormaster for thirteen years, and other officers for less time. The fact that these men retained office from year to year is evidence of the satisfactory service they gave to the community at large.

We may well be proud of the forefathers who fought for American Independence, and Manchester has to its credit a goodly list of those patriots. Among them are the following names: Nathan Pierce, Joshua Van Fleet, Peleg Redfield, Samuel Rush, Thomas Sawyer, Joab Gillett, Ebenezer Pratt, Israel Harrington, and Nicholas Chrysler. it has been impossible to ascertain the rank of each one, with the exception of Nathan Pierce, who was captain of a company.

The well earned peace and tranquility of the community were again soon to be disturbed by the cry of war. The paths of these early settlers had been strewn with many and various hardships. The long and great Revolutionary struggle was still fresh in their minds, but they were destined to endure, in addition to the hardships of home-making in a wilderness, the anxieties and losses incident to another war, that of 1812.

The defense of the Niagara frontier and the protection of the American shores of lake Ontario were of vital importance to these new settlements, for to them the war threatened the desolation of their newly made homes, and with the call for volunteers they freely yielded of their best. It is not strange to find that among the first to enlist was Nathan Pierce, Jr., son of the captain of Revolutionary fame. He served under General Wadsworth, familiarly known by his men as "Black Bill." At the close of the war of 1812, Nathan Pierce was given command of a company of militia.

Another Manchester boy deserves mention. Gilbert Howland, eldest son of the pioneer, Nicholas Rowland, was captain of a company of militia at the breaking out of this war, and on May 28th, 1812, he was commissioned, by Daniel D. Tompkins, then Governor of New York, as captain "of a company in the regiment of infantry, in the County of Ontario, whereof Thaddeus Remington, Esq., is Lieutenant Colonel Commandant." His patriotism was not to be proven, for he yielded his desires to the wishes of his father and mother who belonged to the Society of Friends. On account of his failure to take command, it devolved upon the first lieutenant, Peter Mitchell. Mitchell was a young man of much promise. His later career gives proof of this, for his name stands forth as that of one of the foremost men of those early days, when the good and faithful

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gave of their best to sow and plant for the generations that were to be reapers of their labors. Even at this early period this youth's clerical abilities were recognized and for some months during his active service he was detailed to act as adjutant of his regiment.

Herman J. Redfield received a brevet commission during this war and his two brothers, Harley and Manning, were also volunteers. From Short's Mills went Joshua Stevens and John Wyatt, and Moses and Jacob Eddy, father and son. They were in the artillery company stationed at Black Rock. Timothy Bigelow, Asel Throop, and John Robinson also served from Manchester.

Many are the tales handed clown to us of these exciting times, when the boys from home lived on hard tack and horse flesh, and when at great risk loads of provisions were conveyed to the front, the mothers never forgetting the doughnuts and the fathers always including several casks of cider.

About the year 1806 the militia system was enforced in Ontario county, and every able bodied man was enrolled for military duty, each one being obliged to furnish his own firearms. Without uniformity in arms or clothing, they presented anything but a military appearance. They met yearly in each town for company drilling and inspection, also meeting once a year for regimental training and inspection at the county seat. For company training they met in various parts of the town, and one of the favorite spots for these meetings was at the old Poplar tavern, situated on the road between Manchester and Clifton Springs.

It is a well known fact that these company trainings were generally under the eaves of some inn, when whiskey at three cents per glass, with hard boiled eggs and gingerbread, known in those days as general training cake, were always in evidence and quite as much the order of the day as the training. A fine was imposed upon every able bodied man who failed to appear at the general training. The Quakers, believing in peace and in adherence to their faith, as a rule would refuse to go. It was then the duty of the collector to call upon them and insist that they pay the fine. This often proved a problem hard to solve, and to settle the dispute almost anything would be accepted in canceling the debt, even to sheep, chickens, ducks, pigs, etc.

The very earliest records give the death of Thomas Sawyer, March 12th, 1793, as being the first death to occur in this town. It was he who built the first frame house in the southeast part of the

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town. The first birth recorded is that of Dorris Booth, on March 25th, 1795.

With the opening of the twentieth century came the first merchant, Nathan Barlow, and the first physician was James Stewart. The training of the youthful minds fell to Elam Crane and with gratitude to his memory we place his name on record as that of the first schoolmaster of the town. Achilles Bottsford ranks as the pioneer cobbler. The first printer from this town was Lewis H. Redfield, who became a printer's devil in Canandaigna, under James D. Bemis.

Religion was a feature of the pioneer life. Rev. David Irish preached in Manchester on January, 1797, and in February following the Baptist society was founded. The legal organization of the society was perfected in 1804. Ebenezer Pratt, Joseph Wells, and Jeremiah Dewey were the first trustees, and the first Baptist church, known as the "old stone church," was built in 1816. It stood on the east side of Main street in the village of Manchester, just a few rods above where now the Lehigh Valley railroad crosses.

The next Baptist church of the town of Manchester was founded at Plainsville in 1803. Its first pastor was Elder Wisner. The Methodists had a society as early as 1800 and held their meetings in private houses.

St. John's church, Episcopal, was organized by Rev. Davenport Phelps in 1807 at Sulphur Springs, now known as Clifton Springs. John and Samuel Shekels were the wardens. In succeeding years other religious bodies have come and made their homes among us.

At an early date our forefathers realized the necessity of educating and preparing the young for the future responsibilities that would naturally confront them. The outcome proves the timber was well worth the pruning. As early as the year 1813, the first school meeting was called and held at the home of Ebenezer Pratt. A record taken from a book containing the minutes of the meetings relates that after much argument and adjournment of said meeting it was "voted that a school house shall be 26 ft. long and 20 ft. wide and 9 ft. high. To be a framed building, unless otherwise agreed hereafter. Voted that a tax of $250 be levied on this district for the purpose of erecting school building." In later years other school districts were set off, but it has been impossible to ascertain the correct dates.

The pioneers thirst for knowledge did not end with a district

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school. This was only a slight expression of their desire to advance and make good for the future generations. The following year, 1814, a town library, in the village of Manchester, was founded and the amount was raised by issuing a thousand shares of stock at two dollars per share. This money was expended in buying standard books. The preamble reads: "Whereas, we the subscribers for mental improvement and for the extension and diffusion of literary information and knowledge generally amongst each other, having formed ourselves into a society to be known by the name of the Farmington Library Society, do constitute and establish the following rules or articles to govern us in our social capacity."

The library contained over six hundred volumes of biographies, histories, and scientific, moral, political, religious, and educational works. On its shelves could be found such books as these: "Rollin s History," "Franklin's Works," "Josephus," "Montague's Works," "Locke s Understanding," "Goldsmith's Works," "Biography of Pious Persons," "Dying Thoughts of a Christian," "Elements of Morality," "Young's Night Thoughts," "Dick's Philosophy of a Future State," "Cook s Travels," etc. The selection of these books shows that the minds of these valiant pioneers were fully as vigorous as their physical endurance had been in hewing a forest home.

This library was always kept in the home of John Pratt, who acted as librarian from 1818 to the time of his death, a period of about fifty years. The remaining well-worn books show the pleasure they gave to a by-gone generation. Many of them are still in the possession of John R. Pratt, M. D.

In 1815, a Masonic lodge was founded at the tavern of Reuben Buck. The records show that there were only fourteen members. The membership soon increased to over a hundred. It was known as Manchester lodge, No. 269. Dr. Philip N. Draper was the last member of this lodge to be buried by Masonic orders, in the year 1827. The Anti-Masonic excitement was the cause of the disbanding of the lodge and the last annual meeting was held on December 17th, 1828.

Suiting things to their needs and by utilizing the waters of the Canandaigua outlet, the first industry in the town took the shape of a flouring and saw mill, erected in 1804 by Theophilus Short at the place now known as Shortsville. A little below this, on the same stream, in 1811, William Grimes built a carding mill. In the

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same year the Ontario Manufacturing Company was organized and bought the water power at Manchester village and manufactured woolen cloths. It is said that at this time there were only two other factories of the kind in the State. In 1824 a grist mill was built by Valentine Coon, at Coonsville.

Case, Abbey, & Co. erected in 1817 a paper mill on the present site of the Jones paper mill in Shortsville, for making writing paper, and it is an item of interest that in this mill was made the paper on which the first Book of Mormon was printed.

The  Birth  of  Mormonism.

Mormonism, which has become one of our greatest national evils, originated in this town, and in turn, it has given to Manchester a national renown. Joseph Smith, Jr., the first Mormon prophet and founder of Mormonism and the Church of Latter Day Saints, was born in Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, December 13th, 1805. He came at an early age with his father to Palmyra, where they ran a small "cake and beer" shop. In 1818 they squatted on a piece of land on Stafford street in the northwestern corner of this town, but they vacated this land in 1830 and the property for many years has been in the possession of the Chapman family, and was sold by William Chapman in 1907 to Apostle George A. Smith, of Salt Lake City, a grandson of the prophet Smith.

By their neighbors the Smiths were regarded as a shiftless and most untrustworthy family. They were visionary and superstitious and were always digging for hidden treasures. So that Oliver Cowdery, a schoolmaster on Stafford street, had little trouble in enthusing them into the mysteries that could be unearthed.

Their favorite digging place came to be on the hill since known as the "Hill of Camorah," which being interpreted signifies "Mormon Hill," often called Gold Bible hill. This hill is located two and one-half miles north of Manchester village, on the old stage road between Canandaigua and Palmyra.

Joe Smith, Jr., possessed even less than ordinary intellect, and among the boys he was always a butt for their jokes, which have become local history. The reputation these people held among their neighbors is well summed up in the following statement given with their signatures:

Manchester, Ontario Co., N. Y., Nov. 3, 1833.    
We, the undersigned, being personally acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen., with whom the Gold Bible, so-called, originated, state that they were not only a lazy, indolent set of men, but also intemperate, and their word

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was not to be depended upon, and that we are truly glad to dispense with their society.

Pardon Butts, Joseph Fish, Moses C. Smith, Hiram Smith, Warren A. Reed, Horace N. Barnes, James Gee, Alfred Stafford, Sylvester Worden. A. H. Wentworth, Abel Chase.

Also the affidavit of Parley Chase throws much the same light on this Smith family:
Manchester, New York, December 2, 1833. I was acquainted with family of Joseph Smith, Sr., both before and since they become Mormons and feel free to state that not one of the male members of the Smith family were entitled to any credit whatsoever. They were lazy, intemperate, and worthless men, very much addicted to lying. In this they frequently wasted their skill. Digging for money was their principal employment. In regard to their Gold Bible speculation, they scarcely ever told two stories alike. The Mormon Bible is said to be a revelation from God through Joseph Smith, Jr., His prophet, and this same Joseph Smith, Jr., to my knowledge, bore the reputation among his neghbors of being a liar.

It was the mother who exercised the larger influence on her son s life, and the Smiths' interest and belief in a hidden treasure sewms to have been part of their early training.

In 1819, while the Smiths were digging a well near Palmyra, on the farm of Mr. Clark Chase, a stone of peculiar shape was unearthed. It resembled in form a child's foot, and was white, glossy, and opaque in appearance. Joe kept the stone and by its aid he claimed to see wonderful things. In a short time his reputation grew and with the stone to his eyes he claimed to be able to reveal both things existing and things to come. This stone caine to be known as the famous Peek stone and is truly called the "Acorn of the Mormon oak."

Several years later, in 1827, Rev. Sidney Rigdon heard of the Smiths and their claim to find hidden treasure through the miraculous Peek stone, and all facts lead to the belief that Rigdon was the founder of the Mormon faith. When Smith's attention was directed from the discovery of buried money to that of a buried bible, remains one of the unexplained points in his history. The account accepted by the Mormons is the revelation of the book by an angel to Joe Smith, and in this vision he was directed to dig on Mormon hill, and, much against his will, to be the interpreter of the sacred document and give it to the world. The description of the buried volume was changed from time to time. In this way strength was given to the theory that Rigdon was attracted to Smith by the rumor of his

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discovery and afterwards gave it shape. Joe did not claim for the plates any new revelation or religious significance, but simply that they were a historical record of an ancient people. This would indicate that he had possession of the Spaulding manuscript before it received any theological additions. At the time Mr. Spaulding offered "The Manuscript Found" for publication; Sidney Rigdon was employed in the same printing office, and it is supposed on good authority that he made a copy of it and that Rigdon made good use of Joe's money-digging proclivities and that from their co-partnership was produced the Book of Mormon.

The financial aid for carrying out this scheme came from a farmer by the name of Harris. It is an accepted fact that the man who had more to do with the founding of the Mormon church than Joseph Smith, Jr., and who is little known to most persons to whom the name of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are so familiar, was Sidney Rigdon, truly called by some writers, "the compiling genius of Mormonism."

They claim to have dug the plates on September 21, 1827, and the "bible" was printed in Palmyra in 1830.

The title page of the first edition of the Book of Mormon is as follows:

The Book of Mormon.

An account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi.

Wherefore it is an abridgment of the Record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel, and also to Jew and Gentile, written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophecy and of Revelation. Written and sealed up and hid unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed, to come forth by the gift and power of God into the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God: an abridgement taken from the Book of Ether.

Also. which is a Record of the People of Jared. which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when they. were building a tower to get to Heaven, which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel how great things the Lord bath done for their fathers, and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever, and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesu.s is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all nations. And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men, wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ.

By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprietor, Palmyra.
Printed by E. B. Grandin, for the Author.

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In the revised editions this is corrected and Joseph is designated as Translator only.

About the year 1830, Joe Smith and his followers left the town of Manchester with their unsold bibles and removed to Kirtland, Ohio, where Rigdon had already established a church. Their wanderings from place to place have become well known history. From Kirtland they went on to Nauvoo, and after a brief stay in Missouri on to Utah. where they found a permanent resting place.

Crooked brook, of Mormon fame, runs through the northwest part of the town, and it was in the waters of this stream that the Mormons baptized their early saints. Dr. Stafford, an old resident of the village of Manchester, was present at the first baptism.

The roads of the township were supposed to have been laid on the line of lots. As the settlers moved in, roads came to mean shorter cuts from one settlement to another, and from farm to farm. Often an old Indian trail through the forest was utilized to advantage. Otherwise a visit to a neighbor would have necessitated many weary hours of travel, and in those days hospitality meant more than a cup of tea; every one was made welcome. The door stood open and willing hands gave the best from their little.

Road improvement seems to have been of more recent date. The first and only plank road in this town was built from Palmyra to Canandaigua in 1849, by a stock company, and it was a toll road. The toll-gates in this town were located, one at Crane's corners just west of the village of Shortsville, and the other at the north edge of the village of Manchester, the house being south of where the present school-house stands. The old house is still there and has been remodeled into a dwelling. There were two other toll-gates. One, in the town of Canandaigua, was situated a little east of the Hanna farm. The other was in Wayne county, about a quarter of a mile from the north line of Ontario county, near Palmyra. The toll-gates in the town of Manchester were removed in the early sixties, and the others were in use for some years later until the company surrendered its charter.

Previous to the planking of this road it had been the stage and mail route for many years from Canandaigua to Palmyra, and also for the village of Manchester, which was the half-way stop between these towns for all stage coaches and travelers. The mail was brought by stage from Albany to Buffalo, and Canandaigna

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Note: This text is copyright © 1948 by the American Baptist Historical Society.
Only moderate length "fair use" excerpts are provided here.

The Chronicle
A Baptist Historical Quarterly

VoL XI                                         January, 1948                                         No. 1



Alfons Sundquist

Michell Bronk

John Parmer Gates

H. P. Hoskins

George Dana Boardman




The American Baptist Historical Society

[ 17 ]

The Baptist Church at Manchester, New York


The year 1779 may be taken as a beginning date in Manchester history. In August of that year the famous, blundering Gen. John Sullivan carried out his expedition through the Seneca Indian country. The Indians had indeed made plenty of trouble for the colonies, not only as allies of the British, but on their own account, and Sullivan was ordered by the Congress and President Washington to go north and clear up the few of them that remained. Revenge for the Wyoming and Cherry Valley Massacres was also in mind. Sullivan did his job thoroughly, ruthlessly well, burning villages and the standing corn, destroying, killing. It is another Indian affair of which we Americans should be ashamed. Appropriately it has been called a "raid."

At least it advertized this Genesee Country wilderness. Reports had already gotten to Boston and Philadelphia of the richness of the soil, of the general desirability of the region for settlement, for farming. It was a time of big land deals. In 1788 Oliver Phelps, a New England merchant, and the distinguished Nathaniel Gorham, of Boston -- a "founding father" -- acquired a tract of approximately two million acres; comprising not a little of what is now called Western New York. Incidently, Phelps and Gorham did not long remain in possession of much of the "purchase," and were on the whole unfortunate in the deal.

At first settlement was slow, and difficult. There were almost no roads except Indian trails. The incomers did find the little rivers and streams -- then larger than at present -- useful for transportation. The Canandaigua Outlet, for example. There was a flatboat landing on this stream at what is now Manchester village, and from this landing a road was soon built to Canandaigua. The incomers were almost entirely Yankees. They were forever going west, the Yankees were, and from Massachusetts and Connecticut this would naturally bring them into northern New York.

We are now to be concerned with a group of people from the Berkshires of Massachusetts, families mostly related, and Baptists.

The Berkshires were for them little more than a stopping place, their home for not longer than a score of years. They were from the southeastern corner of the State, Bristol County -- traditional

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Baptist ground, be it noted! These settlers of Manchester and founders of the Manchester church may conveniently be designated as the Pierces-McClouths-Pratts. Of course there were other families among the settlers and in the original church, but these three predominated.

The Swansea, Massachusetts, church is historic for American Baptists. The congregation had come over in a body from Wales, in 1665. Mial Pierce (b. 1693, d. 1786) was not a Welshman. His great-grandfather, Capt. Michael Pierce, of King Phillips War fame had arrived in the colonies about the middle of the seventeenth century. It is said that Michael had become infected with the Anabaptist heresy back in the old country. Be that as it may, the Down East saying came into vogue, "The Pierces are always Baptists." Now Mial happened to be a deacon in the Swansea church -- or rather, in one of them; for, true to Baptist form, it had bifurcated. It seemed too much of a Sabbath-day's journey from South Rehoboth, where he lived, to the church in Swansea (North Rehoboth), so he moved for the establishment of what has come to be known as the Hornbine Baptist Church. The building they forthwith put up, in 1754, is still standing; well preserved; delightfully antique; out in the country between Providence and Fall River.

In this church Mial's son, Nathan, preached for forty years; his gravestone says, "preached the gospel of Christ according to Hebrews 6:2, 3," for they were the Six Principle kind -- as indeed were a majority of the Baptist churches in the colonies at this time. Elder Nathan and his wife Lydia ("a remarkably smart little woman, with black eyes, very handsome," the records say) had fifteen children. Of course they all had to be Baptists. And there was this about the Pierces: the families into which they married became Baptists, too. It happened so in the case of the McClouths and Pratts of Taunton.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Revolution a group of these Bristol County families migrated to the then unsettled Berkshires and took up their abode near what was afterwards Cheshire. There, on Stafford's Hill, they established a Baptist church -- which sometime later became two, or even three, for they were typical Baptists and knew how to split! Elder Nathan's son, Nathan Jr., did honor to the family name by giving his life for the colonial cause,

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captain of a Berkshire company, with Benedict Arnold's forces, before Quebec, in 1776.

In 1795 some of the Pierces-McClouths-Pratts moved on from the Berkshires into the Genesee Country, and arrived at what was then Farmington, afterwards Manchester, but in the seventeen nineties only wilderness. They found a certain Joel Gillet already here, building a log cabin about where the Baptist church now stands, and a Sharon Booth clearing land for a farm farther to the west. Nathan Pierce III took land to the north and east, on the Black Brook. His brother-in-law John McClouth located not far from the present Brookside Cemetery, on Melvin's Brook, and his uncle Ebenezer Pratt near the Outlet landing-place. My own grandmother, Anna Pierce, was only two years old when they arrived but she used to insist that she could remember the howling of the wolves around the house in the night -- there were no doors and windows -- and she remembered seeing deer race over the flats, and occasionally a bear.

The years 1795-1797 were hard and toilsome. We of this soft generation can scarcely realize what it meant: breaking into that wooded country for farm homes; and they had to live meanwhile, to eat, and keep warm, to clothe themselves -- and those big flocks of children! A great-uncle, a Pierce, said to me when I was a boy "Mitchell, do you see that fine meadow lot, and the pasture over there? My father and brothers did all that -- I was a small boy and they spared me -- cutting the timber, digging out the stumps, rolling and dragging the rocks for stone walls -- how they worked -- broke their backs!"

Yet they were men of religious faith, accustomed to assemble for worship on the Lord's Day. So, tremendously occupied as they were with material necessities and projects, they came together occasionally for prayer and praise and the exchange of religious experience -- a sort of prayer meeting, maybe; in John McClouth's log house, or log barn, tradition says. And they were thinking of something more than that, of a church. For they were churchly folks, born and brought up to it.

The first step was taken towards the end of 1796. We have the record, under the date, November 24, of that year:

"A number of brethren and sisters of the Baptist order, from different parts, being awakened to a sense of their duty, and finding some desire to promote the cause of Christ in this infant

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plantation, and conferring upon the same, agreed to write to Elder David Irish, of Scipio, to come with some of his brethren and visit us. The which we did."

On the 1st of January, 1797, "came the Elder and brethren, Timothy Baker and Asa Caswell. At evening Elder Irish preached from John 5:25." Four days later they met and decided "to unite in church fellowship." Then they sent a request to the churches at Scipio and Aurelius -- nearest Baptist churches -- to send delegates "to sit in council with us on the 11th of February next, to see if they could give us fellowship as a church of Christ in sister relation with them." The council convened at the specified time, adjourned to February 13, "and after mature deliberation gave us fellowship, as the First Baptist Church of Farmington." The covenant then adopted reads:

"We, the First Baptist Church of Christ at Farmington, on this 13th day of February, 1797, do, in the presence of God, angels and men, freely and solemnly covenant together to watch over each other for good, and to preserve steadfastly in all laws, ordinances and regulations of Christ's House, as recorded in the New Testament, as near as we can in this imperfect state, and to meet on every Saturday before the 2d First Day in every month, to renew Covenant."

There could not have been more than a dozen or fifteen constituent members. Two years later the membership was only thirty. But it was a close and scrutinized membership. Discipline was rigid and there were frequent exclusions; sometimes for reasons that we would regard ridiculous. For instance from the records: "Withdrew the hand of fellowship from Phoebe for frolicking;" "from Betsey for disorderly conduct in religious meeting;" "from William for not paying his honest debts." There is also an unrecorded legend that a certain sister was expelled for sheer gossiping. The parish, however, was broad; many square miles of the Genesee Country -- much more than the present Ontario County. And the church grew. There were frequent baptisms in the Canandaigua Outlet, then a clear, beautiful little river.

The reference in the Covenant to a Saturday covenant meeting deserves more than passing mention. Now largely a thing of the past, for many years this Saturday afternoon service was regarded as vital to the spiritual life of the church and the members. In a journal that Daniel Arnold kept for many years, full of

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the church's affairs, he speaks of this covenant meeting oftener than of the Sunday services. Some ministers advised that only those who had attended the covenant meeting should be allowed to partake of the communion the following Sunday. As I remember it, the brethren and sisters, one after the other, would stand and tell of their spiritual trials, victories and joys, of the past month. For some this was not easy, indeed a cross. Nor were the "experiences" always edifying. In 1840 a brother contributed, "Yesterday I was in Phelps Town, today I'm here, Amen!" A sister once made the confession: "I was absent from divine worship last Lord's Day, because I had to help Martin clean out the well; it was full of frogs."

At first Elder Irish came over from Scipio -- 45 miles! -- as often as he could and preached; until 1800, when Elnathan Finch became the regular pastor. John McClouth was the sole deacon, and he needed to be ordained. He was likewise clerk for many years. This David Irish (b. 1757, d. 1815) deserves more than mere naming. The Manchester church, as it started, was fortunate to have him as counselor. He was a sort of missionary bishop of this whole region with which we are concerned. Not relinquishing his ministry at Scipio and Aurelius, he was much afoot, preaching, and encouraging the young Baptist churches. It is told how he once tramped 35 miles through a cold driving rain, slush and mud -- practically no roads, remember! -- to keep an appointment. His record of baptisms is above 1200.

From the first the Manchester church was "out-looking." Meetings were held from time to time in Palmyra, Phelps, Gorham and Canandaigua, and out of these meetings grew independent churches: so that the Manchester body came to be known throughout the State as "the Mother of Churches." At the covenant meeting, January 10, 1800, "a letter was read from Palmyra requesting a council to come and set them off as a church and it was granted."

The pastorate of Anson Shay (1804-1828) was significant: growing, eventful, sometimes stormy, years in the church's history. His name became almost synonymous with that of the church. When I would inquire of my grandfather about the church's early years, I could get nothing out of him but, Elder Shay! Marvin Allen was with the church but three years (1831-1834), yet his memory lasted in the church and community. As a boy I wondered why so many men of the town bore the given name,

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"Marvin Allen." The records of 1808 make particular mention of a visit from the famous Elder John Leland, pastor, off and on, of the mother church back in the Berkshires.

For thirteen years John McClouth's log house, or log barn, was the usual place of worship.The year 1810 saw the erection of the first meetinghouse. It was of logs and stood on a lot, given by Oliver Phelps, on the east side of the road leading to Canandaigua and on a rise of ground south of the present Lehigh Valley Railroad underpass. It was a sizable building, a part being fitted up as a home for the sexton. It is said that for a time it also housed the village school.

The years following the War of 1812 was a period of great national prosperity, of high prices and plenty of money, of inflation. The church was growing and prospering. The members became ashamed of that log meetinghouse and proceeded to replace it with a rather pretentious stone edifice. It was dedicated Christmas Day, 1815, costing upward of $9000, which for that day was a lot of money. A new county court house in Canandaigua a fewyears later cost only six thousand. This church had three doors, opening into a vestibule, and three aisles. A gallery extended along both sides and across the front. The pulpit was at the top of a pillar and was mounted by a winding stairway; it was painted white, as was all the interior woodwork. The walls were plastered, directly onto the stone. It was heated by one large stove, taking three-foot wood -- but my mother remembered the church as being always unbearably cold in winter. Old folks would bring foot-stoves; maybe warming-pans. It was of course lighted by candles. William Wheat was sexton. His son Franklin used to relate: "When I was a boy I helped my father light the candles in the old stone meeting-house. When meeting was half over we'd go round and snuff off the burned wick, so they'd burn better."

In 1815 the Ontario Association, organized the year before, met at Manchester. Thirty-five churches were represented, with a total membership of 1790. The moderator was Thomas Tuttle, and the preacher of the opening sermon, William Roe.

The fine new building brought the congregation little blessing. Did it make them "puffed-up?" Anyhow, the dozen years that followed are the darkest period in the church's history. The disastrous reaction that now set in in national affairs and economic conditions was partly responsible. "The whole community was

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buried three feet deep in debt it could not pay." The building debt that had been carelessly assumed proved a millstone. Recrimination and dissension prevailed among the members. Anti-masonry began to make trouble. In a minute of one of the covenant meetings it is stated that the church "had long been in a lingering situation." In 1828 the long-extended pastorate of Elder Shay came to an end. For a time the minister at Orleans -- a daughter church -- served also for the Manchester field. The title to the stone church property became tangled and in jeopardy. Finally there was some sort of reorganization under the name, "The First Baptist Church and Society of Manchester"; Manchester having been set off as a township separate from Farmington. My understanding is that a faction of the members afterwards never admitted that there had been a real disorganization or a union with Orleans.

In 1831 with the coming of Marvin Allen things began to brighten. Elder Allen was a pacifier, a "smoother." He was, too, a strong evangelist; he had revival after revival, with many baptisms and many restorations. In 1836 the membership was 175; the largest in the Ontario Association. Harley Miner and James G. Moore were successors of Elder Allen of whom I used to hearvery good reports.

In considering the low estate into which the church drifted in the years 1816-1831 more account should be taken than has been customary of the Antimasonry agitation. A Masonic Lodge had been started at Manchester in 1816. Nearly all the men of the Baptist church joined. The Lodge's first installation of officers was held in the church. The Morgan affair of 1826 stirred the town profoundly, for it was from the near-by Canandaigua jail that Morgan was taken -- or at least suddenly disappeared. In the agitation that ensued churches were split, friendships broken, and politics deranged. After the Manchester Lodge disbanded as it did in 1827, the church made a bylaw that no Mason should ever occupy the pulpit. It alienated my grandfather, Stephen Brewster, from the church but his brother-in-law, Peter Mitchell, who was also a Mason, remained active. As recently as 1873 the rule referred to, long forgotten, was used to push out a minister whom some did not want.

The Antimasonry disturbance was not yet over when the church had to stand by and witness the birth of a new religion, or pseudo-religion. Writers on Mormonism have paid too much attention

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to Palmyra and not enough to Manchester in connection with Joe Smith -- my old townsmen never dignified him with "Joseph!" But Gold Bible Hill (Cumorah, forsooth!) is in Manchester, not Palmyra, and the Smith family lived in our town. They traded at Manchester and Shortsville. Joe's amanuensis, Oliver Cowdery, had taught the Manchester school. What more concerns us here, however, is the fact that Joe occasionally attended the stone church; especially the revivals, sitting with the crowd -- the "sinners" -- up in the gallery. Not a little of Mormon theology accords with the preaching of Elder Shay. It is significant that immersion became the form of baptism practiced by the Saints. It should be pointed out that in the eighteen twenties the Manchester area was experiencing an unusual amount of religious excitement -- excitable religion.

The newfangled religion created little disturbance in the church. In fact the people of the town didn't take Joe seriously; or didn't know what to make of his revelations. It did, however, cause religious confusion and unsettlement among the religious ignorant and erratic. There was a feeling of Good Riddance when the hegira took place, and some of us natives of Manchester have always been ashamed that Manchester gave Mormonism to the world.

Far more troublesome to the religious life of the Genesee Country and the Manchester church than the Antimasonry movement and incipient Mormonism was the Second Coming excitement of the eighteen thirties and forties, instigated by William Miller, a Baptist. It swept over this part of New York State in great waves of fanaticism. Women were busy tailoring their translation robes; farms and businesses were disposed of as soon to be superfluous, and community houses were put up where families might live, awaiting the Coming. A factory building that used to stand by the Outlet, a mile or so west of Manchester, was originally built for this purpose. I do not know how many of the Baptist flock put their faith in William Miller, but when I would ask why this one or that of our town kept away from the church and had "no use for religion," I would be told: "He was a Millerite; that did it." Thus Miller's tinkering with Scripture, and prophetic arithmetic and "times and seasons" shattered the faith of many.

Hydeville was only a few miles from Manchester, across in Wayne County. There, in 1848-1850, Spiritualism had its beginning, as a sectarian body. The Fox sisters, the rappings, the communications

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and leviations created no little stir in the larger world, and of course in Manchester; but the 'ism was too far away from the gospel as they knew it to attract any of the Manchester Baptists.

At the middle of the nineteenth century the world was modernizing, and the old stone church was becoming old-fashioned. There was much talk of a new meetinghouse, to be built down nearer the village. In 1849 lots were purchased, adjoining the burying ground. The building was speedily erected, of wood, at a cost of only about $3200. That it was well built, even at that figure, is attested by the fact that some of the structure is still in use in the present church, after nearly a century. According to a custom of the time, the pews were sold -- auctioneered off -- and became the legal property of the holders. Ours cost $50. The pews had doors. There were sittings for strangers, but not in your pew! The bell, that had hung in the old stone church for two score years, was transferred to the new building where it now hangs. The dedication occurred January 16, 1850, in the third year of Elder Wiggins' pastorate. Elder Stanwood, of Rush, preached the sermon from Revelation 2:10. It is to be hoped that he used only the last clause of the verse!

Extensive repairs were made upon this building in 1875. Then the long horsehair sofa behind the pulpit gave way to three red plush upholstered pulpit chairs. How many times, when the sermon was long and the Sunday hot, the small boy had wished he might steal up behind the preacher and stretch out on that sofa. During another renovation, in 1890, a baptistry was built into the church which to some of the older members was against New Testament and Baptist order. It wasn't a Jordan, and the Canandaigua Outlet was.

The first decade in the new church was a period of peace, prosperity, and growth. The 1856 report to the Association shows sixty-one baptisms. And a melodeon had been installed. In the stone church the singing had occasionally been accompanied by a cello, but this was objectionable to many; "Just a big fiddle," they said, "and isn't a fiddle dance music, and so the devil's?" This melodeon served until along in the seventies, when a Mason and Hamlin cabinet organ was purchased. I well remember what a wonderful thing it was, and its music, to the congregation, and especially to us small boys. And now a real organ, pipe organ, is coming to the church, as a feature of this sesquicentennial observance.

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There had been a choir in the earliest days of the stone church, but the hymns were "lined" by the chorister, hymn books being scarce. In 1853 the American Baptist Publication Society put out The Psalmist which the church adopted. Later the Society's Devotional Hymn Book was used. The copies were without notes, and bound in sheepskin. The choir were provided with the large, oblong tune-books. They sang "air," with maybe a bass voice or two. I believe solos were never, or not often, used in the church service. In the 'fifties Nathaniel Kendrick Cole (a great Baptist name, but always "N. K." to us) became choir-master. His service was a notable one -- well-nigh 40 years. He never trusted to the melodeon, not even to the cabinet organ, for the "ear," but clung to his tuning-fork, to the end. His foot, likewise, beating time, used to take the small boy's attention.

Then there came the War Between the States. Our church has never been sluggard in sending its men to its country's wars. Peleg Redfield, a constituent member, had been in the Revolution. Peter Mitchell was a captain in the War of 1812. Some were in the Mexican War. In 1861-1864 the church was constantly praying for its boys "down there," and had to mourn for at least one of its choicest young men, Simeon Cooper, killed at Harpers Ferry, September, 1862. A grandson of N. K. Cole's, just a boy, died in the Spanish American War. In these last two great and awful conflicts, World Wars I and II, the church has needed to hang out honor rolls: thirty names on the one, sixty on the other, not counting enlisted girls.

The extension of the Lehigh Valley Railroad through Manchester, in 1892, was momentous for the church. It changed a quiet pretty hamlet into a stirring railroad center. The church was to be no longer a congregation of farmers. But the railroad strengthened and gave new life to the Baptist cause by bringing in new people and opening new avenues of service.

As the centennial year approached it was decided to celebrate the occasion not only with appropriate exercises, but even with a new building: for such the present edifice is, a new structure on the frame and foundation of the old, thus cherishing dear associations.The exterior was covered with a veneer of brick, a brick tower was added, new and handsome oak pews, electric lighting, colored glass windows, and all that.The time-honored horse-blocks, upon which so many deacons had unloaded so many

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women folks, were no more to be seen. We had gotten into the horseless age!

The rejuvenated meetinghouse was dedicated October 10, 1900, with many old and new friends of the church in attendance. Pastor Covell gave a comprehensive historical sermon, and former pastor, M. V. Willson, offered the dedicatory prayer. An interesting feature of the exercises was the introduction of Mrs. Mary Arnold Dewey, eighty-six years old, a pupil in the Sunday school when it was started in 1826, and forty years teacher of its primary class. All my life, in preaching, teaching and writing, I have been seeing the Bible as she pictured it to us small children. Masterfully she could do it.

Manchester has always been what is called a missionary church. When he died, at ninety-two, it was assumed that Daniel Arnold was almost a poor man because he had been giving his property, little by little, to the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, "keeping just enough to live on to the end." Yet at that end there was enough left to provide for a bequest of $8000 to the Mission Society. His wife, "Aunt Betsey," farmer's wife that she was, would sell eggs and butter to give to missions. When her sister, Mrs. Peter Mitchell, died, the little money she had saved through the years went to the church and our missionary societies, in a trust. It was not a big sum, but the income from it has enabled her for nearly a century now thus to be a contributor, "being dead." This missionary tradition in 1888 led a beloved daughter of the church, Hattie E. Hawkes, to give herself to the foreign field. For years she labored efficiently in Burma under the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society; in Bassein to 1895; at the Shwegyin Karen Mission, to 1915. When she died in 1917 another missionary, familiar with her work, wrote: "The loss will be very great. The work which she did was unique. Her influence was far-reaching." More recently another daughter of the church, Jane Warner, after thorough preparation, has joined the staff of our Home Mission Society, as Director of Religious Education for a group of churches in the Herkimer and Oneida Associations. Finally, the church likes to remember that one of its Sunday school "kids," a boy out of its parsonage, is the John H. Covell whom the denomination is just now almost canonizing.

At a church meeting, June 17, 1813, it was voted: "the members of this church shall, each of them, carry in to the Elder such

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quantities and articles as they please, and that he shall keep an account of each one's articles, and the same shall be brought into the church meeting that comes next to New Years' Day, and then be shown to the church." The "quantities and articles" will of course have been mostly farm produce. This donating ultimately became a Donation Day, and then an evening Donation party. In the eighteen-seventies these "Donations" -- that was the word we used -- were a real social event. They were held in the basement of the church building, the only vestry we knew. When one came in he was directed to a table presided over by treasurer Schuyler Redfield and clerk N. K. Cole. Here he planked down his donation usually a dollar bill, not so usually a five or ten. The supper, however, put one out a half dollar more. This was steep for those days, but the meal was ample, in the farmhouse sense of the word. The odor of boiling coffee was much in evidence: you boiled your coffee then, an hour or more. We young people played games, off in a corner; but there was no program, no music, not even a speech by the minister, who, all the same, looked happy -- at least when the attendance was large and there were more bills than shinplasters on the table.

Elder Shay or Peter Mitchell would have been mystified, amazed, at the way the church has "organized" in the more recent years. But it had to, in order to keep up-to-date. Among other organizations there were formed the Women's Foreign Mission Society, 1976; Christian Endeavor, 1890; Boy Scouts, 1916; World Wide Guild, 1926; and various classes.

In the old days the Manchester church looked upon Hamilton, N.Y., as the Baptist Athens, or Baptist Rome. Those of its ministers who had not studied there had at least imbibed its theology second-hand. Hascall, Kendrick and Eaton were authoritative names. From 1850 on, however, Manchester's proximity to Rochester, N.Y., tied the church to the Seminary in that city. It has been remarked that our church has been a practice school for Rochester students. If a guest preacher or stated supply was needed, President Strong or President Barbour or Dean Stewart would send down a presentable student in short order. Eugene A. Lower and Frank Eden, since prominent in our denomination in the Middle West, were both student pastors, 1908-1913. But the Rochester student who stirred up things in our church was William H, Shields, who supplied for several months following the

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demise of Elder Swick. An Irishman, full of the Blarney stone, handsome, sensational, he packed the church morning and evening; people came from everywhere to hear him; the Methodists had to close their doors. When Manchester heard of the sorry end he made of the Christian ministry, there was many an "Oh, what a pity!"

The history of almost any church centers largely around its ministers. As has been said, my grandfather was always telling stories of Elder Shay. My mother had much to relate of Elder Kingsley, who baptized her, and Elder Moore, by whom she was married. The earliest of our ministers whom I recall is Benjamin R. Swick (1866-1870) . It is said that he was affable, and the fact that his funeral was the largest that Manchester had ever seen would hear this out, but the very small boy imagined that ministers are something to be afraid of, and so when he called I would run and hide. He always wore the conventional high hat, and, in cool weather; a shawl. In those days ministers and men of dignity were addicted to shawls. Elder Swick's sudden death oh i the street in Canandaigua, on the way to a Sunday school picnic, August 27, 1870, was a tragedy for the church and the town. He is the only one of all the Elders to rest finally in the churchyard burying ground. Incidentally I think that Mr. Swick was the last of our ministers to whom the title Elder was applied.

Ira Bennett had been pastor before Mr. Swick, but upon retirement had bought a farm near Manchester, and maintained a lively interest in the church. I remember him from the sulky he not infrequently rode with a high-stepping horse. It is said that he knew horse flesh and even sometimes traded them. He was noted, too, for his baptizo sermon. When the church was pastorless, and he would supply the pulpit, as likely as not he would give again that baptizo sermon. It was at least an hour and a half long, and left pedobaptism not a leg to stand on. Speaking of long sermons, our Aunt Betsey Arnold had a snuff-box that closed with a loud snap. If the preacher ran too far beyond her limit -- perhaps the traditional hour and a half -- he would hear the warning of the snuff-box. Elder Bennett was regarded as a strong preacher. Daniel Arnold thought so, and he knew. Uncle Daniel was himself no mean preacher, and filled the pulpit acceptably in emergencies. I heard him once when he was beyond eighty, and it was certainly preaching. He knew the Bible, and

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religion, and the English language, backed by splendid Christian character. Dri' Rush once remarked that it was a pity the Baptists didn't have more men like Daniel Arnold; and I think of him as the Grand Old Man of the Manchester church.

Among two score and more ministers, it is perhaps unfair thus to single out a few, but M. V. Willson I may mention, pastor from 1878 to 1886.It was under him that I joined the church. He was beloved and popular.

As a son of the Manchester church, but long away from it, I may pay my respects to one more of its ministers, the present incumbent. It was really a kind and wise providence of God that brought him to the church, in 1921 ; for he was peculiarly adapted to the field as he found it and as it has been these past twenty-six years: a changed community, changed economic conditions, and two devastating wars! The church needed a pastor like Mr. Swarthout, a man of courage, devotion, and stick-to-it-ive-ness. God may be thanked that his has been the longest of the pastorates of these one hundred and fifty years. He would confess that his wife has had not a little to do with it. It is significant, too, besides appropriate, that she belongs to a family closely identified with the colonial Baptist history, the Masons of the Swansey-Rehoboth church and those churches on Stafford's Hill.

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