Church and Family History Research Assistance for Cortland County, New York



The Cortlandville Old School Baptists were organized following a trial of their pastor by the modern mission party, which resulted in a council of Old School brethren being called together, and the publication of their findings, as follows:

PROCEEDINGS OF A COUNCIL, Held at Cortlandville, Cortland Co., New York, August 28th, 1839, agreeably to the request of Elder Nathan Peck, in view of treatment lately experienced by him, from the First Baptist Church in Cortlandville, and as to his gospel standing.

At half past 10 a.m., the Council was opened by prayer, by Elder Reed Burritt. The Council was then organized by appointing Elder Reed Burritt, Moderator, Elder D. E. Jewett Clerk and Brother Dexter Barnes Assistant. The following names were entered as constituting said Council, viz.-- From the Regular Baptist Church in Virgil, Elder David Pratt, Bro. Dea. Zach Price, Dea. S. Freeman, David Robinson, Dexter Barnes. From the Baptist Church in Colesville, Elder William Storrs, and Bro. G. Little. From the Baptist Church in Binghamton, Elder Daniel Robinson. From the Baptist Church in Caroline, Brn. John Grout, Simon Hough, Kenner Hollister, Robert H. Watkins, and Dea. Isaac Hollister. From the Baptist Church in Enfield, Brn. Joel Bassett, Lemuel Potter, Charles Woodward, and James Robinson. From the Baptist Church in Cayuga Lake, Elder Jesse Briggs, Brn. Jonathan West, and Ananias Smith. From the 3rd Baptist Church in Hector, Elder Reed Burritt, Bro. John Coddington, and Richard Terry. From the Baptist Church in Tyrone, Elders Samuel Bigalow and Daniel E. Jewett. Brother John Corley, from the 1st Baptist Church in New York City, being present, was invited and took a seat with the council.

The council being constituted, Elder Peck is requested to state his reasons for calling said council. When he arises and makes a brief statement of the relation that had existed between himself and the First Baptist Church in Cortlandville, of his having been long and variously tried with modern movements in the Church, as also in the Association with which it was connected, on the ground of which he had been led to ask for a letter of dismission - and he further stated that, on the 15th of June 1839, he made request for such letter, and that it was moved and seconded, that he receive it, but that it was objected to by the pastor and a few members of the church on the professed ground of some prejudicial reports in circulation against Elder Peck. He further states that the church meeting was then adjourned for two weeks, himself requesting that meantime the church or any members of it would bring their difficulties to him, that, if possible, he might remove them. And no such complaint having been brought to him, when the adjourned meeting arrived, he attends, a list of charges are brought forward, to which he replied, but which were still urged as proveable; though no proof as called for by him, was shown. But finding that an act of exclusion was appended to the charges, which, with the exclusion, were urged to be immediately passed, he objected against the course of the church as unscriptural, and asked that their proceedings might be suspended, until a mutual council could be convened. Which request being unheeded, and the Charges and Exclusion Voted, he had requested this council to convene, to consider the gospel character of the aforementioned course, together with his standing as to a Christian character.

Inquiry is next made of Elder Peck whether he can bring any other testimony to these things, or whether any delegation is expected from the Baptist Church in Cortlandville, to sit with us; Elder Peck replies, that at the last meeting of the church he visited them, and gave notice of such a council being expected to assemble on this day, in this place, and requested that, if they had the means of establishing the charges laid against him, they would show their proof at the meeting of this council. He added, that they voted not to attend or do anything in the case.

Mr. Montague, the acting pastor of said church, being present, is inquired of, whether the church have any delegation meeting with the council. He answers that, if there is, he supposes they are of age to speak for themselves. No such delegation appearing, the council proceed requesting Elder Peck to bring forward what other evidence he has to present on the matter before us.

In doing so, Elder Peck introduces a brother Kenney, a member of the Church in Cortlandville, who can inform the council, whether the account given by himself is correct. Bro. Kenney is requested to make as full a statement as possible, from his own personal knowledge, of the proceedings of the church in the case. He proceeds, and in the main his account accords with that already given by Elder Peck.

An inquiry arises whether the council ought to appoint a committee to ask from the Baptist Church in Cortlandville a copy of their records touching the case before us. Mr. Montague, still being a present spectator of the council, says, that 'Elder Peck has all along had free access to the records of the church.' So, therefore, Elder Peck is requested to bring forth what evidence he has. On the motion for adjournment, voted to adjourn 30 minutes. The council again coming together, Elder Storrs leads in prayer. We return to consider the evidence brought before us; and Elder Peck lays before the council a copy of a preamble and ten charges, which were together the professed ground of his excommunication. According to request the same is read, and with it the attestation of C. Bennet to its correctness. Not finding this witness to call himself the clerk of the Church, inquiry is made by the council, whether he is so or not. Elder Peck in reply asks Mr. Montague, now present, is C. Bennet Church Clerk? Mr. Montague says, he supposes he is. Bro. Kenney being asked, says, He is. Elder Peck adds, that this copy was granted by Bro. Bennet, as a citizen only, not officially, the church having voted no such copy when he (Elder Peck) requested it.

As many things brought against him were of some long standing, the question arises, whether he (Elder Peck) had been in the visible fellowship of the church during the time past, referred to. In answer to this question, it is plainly shown, that, however he had on various occasions dissented from the course pursued by the church, yet he had not broken fellowship with them, and that he had never known of any church labor with himself, except on one occasion; and that then, when he had stated the circumstance in the case, they professed themselves satisfied. And he adds, that it was the first time, that these charges were made known to him, when brought forward as the ground of his Excommunication.

Some queries appear in the council, whether it be of use, considering the slender character of the charges, further to pursue our examination of the case. On motion, however, opportunity is afforded to Elder Peck to make any remarks, which he may wish to, in relation to the charges. He proceeds to make some remarks, taking charge by charge, and specifying what things were true, and what were not true; and in testimony of what he had said regarding his visible union with the church in Cortlandville, also as to his last statement regarding said charges, he referred the council to Bro. Kenney. Bro. Kenney in substance affirms the same things. On particular examination of Bro. Kenney, it appeared, that there had been no such thing, as a labor of the church with Elder Peck on one of those charges urged against him. The witness Kenney was thinking, that there had been some proof of one charge, which was brought forward on the day of his exclusion; but on inquiry only such evidence was found as rested on report. Another brother of Cortlandville Church, who was not at the meeting on the day Elder Peck was excluded, comes forward and being requested to state what he knows of the case in hand, testifies that, in regard to the charge with which his own mind was most tried, he had made diligent inquiry and found it to be false.

The council having gained what evidence they can, vote to be by themselves, after some remarks a few resolves are introduced by certain brethren, as expressions of the opinion and decision of the council in the case. But, as some members of the council are left in doubt as to the present views of Elder Peck, regarding gospel doctrine and practice, he is called to speak for himself. On coming in, he freely expresses his views, and shows his opposition in conscience to various modern (by many deemed benevolent) movements of the churches to have been the occasion of his requesting a letter of dismission from the First Baptist Church of Cortlandville. Various questions are proposed by some of the council and are answered to their satisfaction by Elder Peck.

The previous resolutions are now brought forward and voted unanimously, as the result of this Council, as follows:

Having patiently and thoroughly as possible investigated the evidence, touching the treatment received by Elder Nathan Peck from the First Baptist Church in Cortlandville, as that evidence has come to us, not from himself alone, but also from its present pastor and certain of its members, and from its records, it is now Resolved:

1st. That in the view of this council the First Baptist Church in Cortlandville have entirely departed from the rules of the Gospel, in excluding Elder Nathan Peck.

2nd. That in the view of the council, Elder Peck has fully sustained his cause of grief against the First Baptist Church in Cortlandville.

3rd. That in the view of this council, Elder Peck is clear from all charges preferred against him by said church.

4th. That Elder Nathan Peck be, and is hereby commended to the confidence, support and cordial reception of the churches of our Lord Jesus Christ, as a gospel minister.

Also voted, that Elders Burritt, Storrs and Jewett, be a committee to revise the minutes of the council, and to have the same published in the "Signs of the Times," and in the Christian Doctrinal Advocate & Spiritual Monitor."

In behalf of the Council,





The following letter discloses the fact that there was an Old School Baptist Church in Virgil Corners, to wit, "Virgil Corners, Cortland Co., N. Y., May 5, 1839. DEAR BROTHER:- This is to inform you that I have been for some time a reader of your paper, and agree with the Bible doctrine therein contained; and I believe in the electing love of God, and the distinguishing grace of Jehovah: that it is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth: but of God that sheweth mercy. I have indulged hope in the pardoning mercy of God, for about 18 years; in which time I have been trying to hold forth the truth to my fellow men as it is in Jesus; and for more than 14 years blowing the gospel trumpet, and endeavoring to feed the sheep and lambs of Christ with the bread of life. And although unworthy to have a place with the people of God, yet I have many times felt to rejoice, when holding forth a crucified and risen Savior to sinners, and seeing them weeping at the cross of Christ. While many are crying in the present day that good works are the way, I believe Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; and that he will save his people with an everlasting salvation. As there are many who call themselves Baptists, that preach another gospel, and hold forth the inventions of men, I cannot give them fellowship or go with them. I do not believe in Theological Seminaries to make ministers: for the Lord will call and qualify his own. Neither do I believe in appointing agents to collect money to save souls of people; for if that would save them, the Catholics would have saved a great many long ago. And since I see that the movements of the day in which we live are calculated to nourish popularity and pride, I have taken a decided stand against them. Neither is it in consequence of any difficulty which the New School Baptists have had with me; for they themselves can bear witness how unblameable I have walked before them; and I came from them well recommended. The course which I have taken is a voluntary one, in defence of the truth. This is therefore to inform my friends and brethren that I have united with the Old School Baptist Church in Virgil, where I am preaching half the time. Our meetings are well attended, and the cause of truth appears to be advancing. If the Lord permit, you will hear from me again. Yours in the bonds of the gospel, ELDER DAVID PRATT."


Barnes, Freeman, Olmstead, Pratt, Price, Robinson (very incomplete list due to loss of records).

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