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



The First Primitive Baptist Church of Clyde and Galen was organized by about 34 brethren and sisters, in the presence of Elder W. Brown, on September 13, 1838. The circumstances are described in a letter from Elder Luke Morley, as follows: "Dear Brother Beebe:-It has often been in my mind to write to you, but a consciousness of my inability has prevented me hitherto. Our brethren, however, wishing to be known to their brethren through the Signs of the Times, requested me, at a church meeting, to inform you of some of the tribulations we have passed through. I emigrated to this country from England, in the fall of 1830, and located at Palmyra, in this county. In the spring of 1831 I had an invitation to visit a few brethren at Clyde, who had been formed into a church some years before, but were then greatly scattered, and were as sheep that had no under shepherd. They unitedly invited me to come and reside with them; and in June, 1831, I removed with my family to this town. The church had been almost indistinct. A few praying souls met together in a school house, and they nominally maintained a standing in the Cayuga Baptist Association, although they had sent neither letters nor messengers for some time. Soon, however, they began to creep out of their holes and corners, and our covenant meetings became very interesting. The church wished their visibility again to appear, and as the Ontario Association was most convenient, we united with them. When our first letter was presented we numbered sixty; this was in the fall of 1831; in 1834 we had increased by baptism and letters to one hundred and nineteen. Our school house had become too strait for us, and we removed into a large store room; this also became too small, and the church set about erecting a meeting house. A friend gave us a piece of ground in a very eligible situation, and we soon met in a neat brick house. We had good assemblies, and peace and harmony were among us. But alas! the poet saith, truly, "We may expect some danger nigh, When we possess delight." Our meeting house was no sooner finished than our troubles began. The convention had for a long time wished to put their broad hand upon us. Of this organization, I had been very jealous, and had closely watched its movements from the period of my first acquaintance with it in the associations. I saw that its tendency was to undermine the independence of the churches, and I cautioned my brethren against it, and am happy to say, that while I was their pastor we never acknowledged them by pecuniary grants. As individuals, the church excluded their liberty; but as a body we could not concur in their human devices, and would not allow them to introduce among us what they called their book of benevolence. They wanted me to recommend the Baptist Register, but I could not recommend a publication that was recognized as the organ of the convention. I was constantly teased by their agents, who with one or another manoeuvre almost distracted me. This, however, worked for my good; it led me to prayer and meditation on the scriptures, especially the Acts of the Apostles and the Revelations, that I might see in what age of the church we were, and all the light my God was pleased to give me I gave unto the church. I was one evening much cast down in my mind, and walked out alone, pondering on these things, and almost doubting whether I could be right with so much talent against me, and I seemed to be alone. I could arrive at no other conclusion than that if I went with them I must give up the scriptures and my own experience, which I could not do. I therefore, resolved I would bear my feeble testimony against what appeared to me to be contrary to the word of God, and leave the event with him. The next morning, being still cast down in mind, a brother called on me with a few numbers of the Signs of the Times, which he had obtained while on a visit to the eastern part of the state, and had brought me, thinking I would like to read them. I perused them, and truly they were like cold water to a thirsty soul - I thanked God, and took courage, for I was not alone: I have been a reader of the Signs ever since, and have no desire to be deprived of it.

Many of our older members moved west, and their places were occupied by others from the east. These new ones soon began to trouble us about the convention, (for that is at the bottom of most of the division in the churches;) they began to sow the seeds of discord among us, until at length the roots of bitterness appeared, and some who but a little while before would almost (if it had been possible) have plucked out their eyes and given them to me, were now ready to pluck out my eyes, because I could not see any beauty in their Babylonish inventions or human traditions, and would not consider them of equal importance with the revealed will of God. After much exeertion, these false teachers found means to beguile the deacons; and those who had been foremost in their professions of love to the pure precepts of the Bible, now ran with itching ears after old wives' fables, and the devices of human wisdom. I requested them to call the church together, and I would abide the decision of the majority relative to remaining among them: this was consented to, but when the church came together the deacons refused to let the vote be taken, for in convassing they had found a large majority of the members who approved of my course, and wished me to remain. The church could not again be called together in a general attendance after they had been thus mocked. Thinking finally the cause of God would not be furthered by remaining among them, after what had passed, I requested and received a letter of dismission. The time had now come when they would not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and turned away their ears from the truth unto fables. They secured the services of a moral lecturer, who told sinners to make their peace with God, and get an interest in Christ and they would be saved. He was but a yearling, however, and his ministry afforded evidence that the church who starves the shepherd that feeds the flock shall find a shepherd who flees the sheep. After I had left the church about a year, (for I did not leave the village) some faithful brethren and sisters, to the number of thirty-four, who had made up their minds not to go any farther with the church which had gone from gospel grounds and become New School, to all intents and purposes, wished to organize into a church, and on the 13th of September, 1838, a new church was formed in presence of Elder W. Brown and some brethren of the Old School Baptist Church in Phelps, called the First Primitive Baptist Church in Clyde and Galen. Since we have taken up our travel we have had two added by baptism, and several have been received from other Baptist churches on relation of their experience, for we do not acknowledge the New School to be on gospel ground, and consequently cannot receive them by letter.

Elder Luke Morley, Clyde, Wayne Co., New York, Dec. 18, 1841.


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The following is an account published in the Signs of the Times, regarding the Church at Sodus, New York: "Dear Sir: A council was called on the 3rd Wednesday of January, to sit with the First Baptist Church in Sodus, New York, to publicly set apart Bro. Ezra Chatfield to the work of the gospel ministry, and after hearing his christian experience, call to the ministry, and views of doctrine and discipline, agreed to proceed in the following order: Preaching by Elder William W. Brown. Ordaining prayer by Deacon Sloan. Charge and right hand of fellowship by Elder W. W. Brown. Concluding prayer by Deacon Salisbury. Hymn and benediction by the candidate. WILLIAM W. BROWN, Moderator. JAMES HOPKINS, JR., Clerk. Some of the brethren of the council wished that a brief statement of the trials of this church has had to pass through, should be sent with this account to the Signs of the Times, and in compliance with their request, the following is submitted: Some ten years since, a system of mismanagement was begun in this church, in the way of government, leaving the word of God, and resorting to expedients, which, after being followed as far as they would go, at length left the church in a distracted state and without a minister, many appearing not to know what to think, where to look, or what to do. In May 1844, the church, without a dissenting voice, resolved to call Elder William W. Brown to preach to them part of the time. He answered the call by requesting the church and society to meet him on a subsequent Saturday: on which day he stated fully what his views and standing were, and afterwards asked, Do you wish me to preach tomorrow? and no one manifested any objection. The next day, after preaching, he asked the whole large congregation to express by rising whether they wished him to come again, when all, with very few exceptions, (and those, as far as we could judge, not interested either way) signified their wish for him to do so. He continued to come for some time; but, in the interval, some few individuals, without consulting the church, invited another minister to come and break bread to the church. In September following, the church did not send a letter or messenger to the association. When the association met, she, contrary to her constitution, dropped the church from her minutes. The church, at her next meeting, resolved that, as the association had dropped us without calling on us, or giving us a hearing, we held no fellowship for them, or any of their inventions; but, enquiring for the old paths, we heard a voice in the word, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, &c. The church, under these circumstances, resumed travel as an independent body. After some time they found it their duty to exclude three members from their fellowship; and in the summer of 1845, these, with other assistance, went round (but did not ask the church) to many members, and prevailed upon them to sign a call for an ex parte council. That council met, and a bystander would have supposed its only object was to prove Elder Brown had deceived the church, by representing himself as a Regular (i.e., a New School) Baptist minister. We have before shown that his very first act was a full declaration of his views and standing. They would not, however, permit him to defend himself, or cross-examine witnesses brought against him. The council then gave them fellowship as the "First Baptist church in Sodus, notwithstanding any exclusions that had taken place," although we had been a majority in every church meeting, and were then, no doubt. The council publicly advised our opponents to make an agreement with us for the meeting-house. They never did this; but threatened to turn us out of possession. In the winter or spring of 1846, they called a society meeting; which resolved that the time should be equally divided between the two parties; and both parties gave at least a tacit consent. That agreement we never have violated; but in the spring of 1847, our opponents (and, we have no doubt, stirred up by foreign influences) without consulting with us, held a series of meetings purporting to be society meetings, in one of which they took full possession of the property. In another, purporting to be held for the purpose of giving the property to whom it belonged, they gave it to themselves, saying that if we had any rights we must resort to the law and show them. Accordingly, in July 1847, when, by our regular appointment, we went to the pulpit, their minister, Mr. Jones was already there, and refused to give it up, saying, he was advised to that course by all the ministers of the county! In consequence of these things, the church has resolved that it would be inexpedient to appeal to the law of the land, although we feel confident we have a good legal and moral right; but we appeal to the court of heaven, praying that they may not prosper in iniquity, but that the judgments of God be upon them until they restore that which they have by violence and wrong taken away. Throughout the whole of their proceedings, our opponents have exhibited a studied effort to hold us up before the public as offenders, but at the same time to withhold from us the opportunity to defend ourselves. Yet, notwithstanding all the calumny, reproach and misrepresentations which have been circulated far and near, we have enjoyed more peace, comfort and union with one another, than we did for years before our separation from the old leaven. This is as brief a statement of the case as we could well make; but it is impossible on paper to convey an idea of what we have passed through. Those who have pased similar scenes may conjecture. Yours in bonds of the gospel, EZRA CHATFIELD. JAMES HOPKINS, JR.


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