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



The First Primitive Baptist Church of Phelps was organized on October 3, 1837, by brethren and sisters who withdrew from the First Baptist Church of Phelps on account of that church going into the modern mission system. Elder William Brown and Elder Luke Morley were among the members of this church. An account of the circumstances leading to the formation of this church were published, in the Signs of the Times, as follows: "Phelps, Ontario Co., New York. The time has at last arrived when a few names of us feel that we are called upon by the Word to take a stand against the false doctrines heaped upon us by men prepared for the purpose at Hamilton, who cry continually, like the horse-leech's daughters, Give! give! for unless you throw into the treasury of the Lord to send missionaries to the heathen, they will sink to an endless hell! together with many other arguments which we presume you are acquainted with, which are useless to mention. They also resort to means to convert souls among us, whom we consider, after they are converted, to be nothing more than Ishmaelitish mockers. We therefore from these considerations, have declared a non-fellowship for the church to which we belonged, and then requested letters sustaining our moral characters, which were readily granted. We then called upon an Elder Luke Morley, of the same faith, who had also declared a nonfellowship with the errors of the day, to meet with us that we might form ourselves into a church upon what we believed to be the primitive order. We accordingly met (only seven of us) and agreed (God being our helper) to support the visibility of a church, according to the directions given by Christ and his Apostles. Soon after an Elder William Brown, who was a member of the same church which we had left, attended their church meeting and asked for a letter of dismission, which was granted, and in a few weeks came and united with us. Soon the church we left began to be troubled; we supposed they were afraid they would lose their place and nation. They thought best to call a council, to know what measures to adopt to get things righted; the council met and advised them to try to reconcile and cite us to the church; but it availed them nothing. They then attacked Elder Brown, and charged him with getting his letter under false pretences, and making a fraudulent use of it. They then appointed a committee to cite him to that church: he accordingly appeared before them and told them he had no idea of using any false pretense, as he had called for a letter publicly and had a right to expect it, as there had been nothing brought against his character as a man or as a christian. Some of that church thought best to drop the subject and do nothing more about it; but their minister thought best to have another council, which Elder Brown objected to on the ground that he considered the church to be the highest ecclesiastical court on earth; but they disregarded him and called a council. They met, and after hearing the their circumstantial evidence, Elder Brown requested evidences on the opposite side, but they objected, observing that it was useless to try to prove the negative when the affirmative was proven! The council retired and soon returned with a verdict that he got his letter under false pretences. But their trouble did not end here; for many of their members, being dissatisfied with the course they had pursued with Elder Brown, requested letters of them, which were refused on the ground, as one of them observed, It was opening a back door to the church, by which all the members might run out. But this did not prevent their leaving; for in a short time a number more left, who came and united with us; and we believe the Lord has been with us. We have received two by baptism, and we now number between forty and fifty. We have preaching every first day of the week by Elder Brown; and we feel to trust in the promises of God, believing he will in his own time add more to our number. We will close, praying that the God of all grace will give us all much of his Spirit to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and rejoice that all that was given by the Father to the Son will be presented by the Son to the Father, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, saying, Here am I, Father, and the children which thou hast given me. Done by order and in behalf of the Church. AUSTIN SWAN, Church Clerk. Phelps, April 12, 1839. P. S. Our church is called the First Primitive Baptist Church of Christ in Phelps, and we would wish you to request for us, through the Signs of the Times, preachers of the Old School order, when travelling through this country, to call and visit us. A. S.


Brown, Morley, Salisbury, Storms, Swan, Vandenburg (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


The following letter discloses the existence of an Old School Baptist church at this place, viz., "Naples, N. Y., July 20, 1851. BROTHER BEEBE:- If you will bear with me a little, I will inform you what the Lord has done for us here among the hills; perhaps some of the readers of the Signs would like to know how we are getting along. In my last letter, which was published in the first number of the present Volume, I told you there was a sifting time with us. When Elder Brown came, in January, according to his appointment, he was met with almost as great a hue and cry as Saul was greeted with by the Ephesians, when he exposed their craft. Some came out and called for their letters, and were about to establish a new church, and seemed intent to destroy Elder Brown, by representing that he was an excluded member and all that kind of aspersion. They even had a letter on hand, purporting to confirm their calumny, when Elder Brown was here, but said nothing to him about it; but after he was gone, they came out with the Rev. Carpenter's letter, to calumniate him, and if possible destroy his influence. But it has resulted about as Haman and his gallows did, they have swung off clear, and left the church on the old platform, with Elder Brown for our pastor. Up to this time there has six left the church since Elder Brown was with us. But God has been pleased to smile upon us, in sending a man among us to preach the unadulterated gospel, who has baptized two, and we have also received three by letter, which makes five added. The prospect is at present that by the time of Elder Brown's appointment, in September, or at that time, more will unite with us; for the enquirers after truth have found that we have the gospel preached among us, and such as love the truth will always seek after it. Our present number is thirty-five; but we live in a scattered condition; but when Elder Brown was out in June, he visited and preached from house to house until he had traveled over all the ground and had seen every member of the church but five, who were not at home; after which he went with us to the Allegany Association, where we had a pleasant time. The solid truth was there set forth, which the religionists of the present day may hear, but they cannot understand or believe it. I have given you this brief account of our situation, thinking that it may afford some encouragement to some of the poor scattered sheep and lambs of the flock, to learn that there are some indications of God's love and mercy yet for his, not our, Zion. Peace, love, and harmony now appears to exist, increase, and abound among us. I remain yours in the bond of Christian love, S. P. MOSHIER."


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