The Founding of the First Presbyterian-Congregational Church in Champlain 

 

            On July 14, 1902, Charles Freeman Nye gave a speech on the one-hundredth anniversary of the First Presbyterian-Congregational Church in Champlain.  His speech gives a very detailed description of the life and times of the church. 

 

            Charles explained how the church was first founded.  During the early days of the town, a strong religious sentiment had grown and in 1802, ten men and women formed the First Presbyterian Congregational Church and Society of Champlain. 

 

            Also in his speech, Charles described the life of Jehudi Ashmun, one of the founders of the Colony of Liberia.   Jehudi had been born in Champlain in 1794 and had become a minister.  He soon devoted his life to the anti-slavery movement.  In 1822, he was commissioned by the U.S. government to sail to Liberia and establish a colony of freed slaves.  In 1828, he traveled back to America where he died soon after. 

 

            Hugh McLellan published this speech using his Moorsfield Press in 1928, 26 years after Charles gave this speech.  The speech is reproduced exactly as it was printed.  Hugh’s corrections (in Errata) have been made in this speech and are also detailed at the end of the article. 

 

 

An Address

 

of

Charles Freeman Nye

 

July 14, 1902

 

At the Centenary Exercises of the

First Presbyterian-Congregational

Church and Society

 

Champlain, New-York

 

 

With a Sketch of the past 25 years

by the Pastor

Rev. D. ELMER HATTIE

 

 

CHAMPLAIN

 

Privately Printed at the Moorsfield Press as a contribution to the

One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Church

I928

 

 

Foreword

 

            In reading Mr. Nye's historical address it is to be borne in mind that it was written in 1902, since which time many changes have taken place in the Village of Champlain, and many locations have nearly, if not quite, lost their old names and identity; for instance, in 1902 the Parochial school was in the brick building on Church Street now known as "Canada Hall"; the deserted island in the river was then a park, with pavilions, a band stand and fountain; the building now occupied by the Lyceum Theatre and the Moorsfield Press was then known by its original name — the Session House — it having been built, somewhat shorter than at present, by the Session of the Presbyterian Church.   Another locality which seems to be forgotten by the present generation is the "Camp Ground" — the pasture on Mr. W. C. Lewis' farm, near the Gun Club.   It was here that the British army encamped in 1814.   The stone house on this farm was built in 1808 by Judge Moore, and was first occupied by Ichabod Fitch and Truman Bosworth.

 

            Mr. Nye expresses a doubt as to the site selected for the church by Judge Pliny Moore, but it seems to be quite fully indicated in the Judge's will.   The paragraph concerning the church is as follows:

 

            "I give and devise to the first Congregational Church & Society in Champlain one acre of land for the purpose of erecting a Meeting house & other buildings for the accomodation of People attending meeting to cover their horses in bad weather on any part of my land within half a mile of the village & not on the low ground where the buildings in the village are nor within one hundred yards of any of my buildings it is my wish it should be built on the hill a little south of the East Battery near where the Artillery were incamped if the Sosiety think proper & so agree & it is my purpose should life & health be continued to me an other year to designate a Site on that hill with a proper space for a Green and open a Street from the Corbin Barn through the brick yard up to it also a street from the highway on the hill beyond my son Noadiahs house by the south fence of a small pasture he has enclosed straight through to the highway leading to Chazy four rods wide to communicate with said Green.   And should I not during my life see the accomplishment of so desireable an object be permitted to provide for it I give and bequeath to the Church & Sosiety above named to aid in its accomplishment One Thousand Dollars to be paid by my sons Pliny & Amasa the one half in materials suitable for building & finishing said Meeting House and the other half when the same shall be finished in cash reserving as a consideration for this donation for the use of my surviveing family two Pews in the said house of an average value with the first or highest twenty.   In the month of September 1810 I was authorized by the Church or Trustees of the Society to solicit contributions in New York to the building a meeting house in Champlain I did so and obtained two hundred dollars, twenty of which I paid over to the Rev. Mr. Pettengill then our Minister One hundred and eighty dollars is yet in my hands is to be paid by my Executors with interest since the first of January 1811 (except two years in the war when I did not want the use of it) whenever it is wanted to employ in building a Meeting house in Champlain by the Congregational Church & Society."

 

            A very early map of the Village of Champlain indicates the "Corbin Barn" on the lot occupied successively by Dunning & Dickinson, William Broder, James DeF. Burroughs and now by Ralph E. Lewis' hardware store; and the "Brick Yard" as extending along the south side of Cedar Street, from Hormidas Tremblay's Shop to the "Brick Row."   It is therefore evident that Judge Moore’s suggestion was to build the church on Third Street, (sometimes designated as Pine Street), opposite the northern end of Center Street, (sometimes designated as Spruce Street); and to approach it by the continuation of the eastern crook of Cedar Street, (sometimes designated as Second Street), from Main Street, through the "Brick Yard" and up the hill to Third Street.

 

            It might be well here to mention that the Record of Sermons of Rev. Abram D. Brinkerhoff, (1795‑1861), who served this Church from 1838 to 1851, is still preserved.   Historically this book has considerable value, as Mr. Brinkerhoff labored throughout Clinton and Essex Counties from 1832 until 1857, having served churches at Chazy, where he was ordained on September 4, 1833; Plattsburgh, 1834; Keeseville, 1835‑1837; Champlain 1838 until July, 1850, and again at Chazy from June, 1851 until the close of his active ministry in 1857.   The first entry in the Record is of November 6, 1832, when he preached "Written Sermon No. 1" at Champlain; the last is of April 19, 1857 when he wrote simply the word "sick".   Funeral sermons, with the names of the deceased, are particularly recorded; also the names of the localities in which he preached — occasionally in private houses and in schools.   The total number of services recorded is 3011, and the number of written sermons 563.

 

                                                                                                HUGH McLELLAN

 

Champlain, N. Y., August 10, 1927.

 

[NOTE: The destruction of the church by fire on the morning of Sunday, December 4th, 1927, adds a peculiar interest to this historical sketch; again the Church has to face the problem of securing a new home.   The building, dedicated in 1849, was of brick in the colonial style of architecture, and stood on the south-east corner of Main and Church Streets].

 

 

 

 

The Material Interests of the Church

 

An Address of

CHARLES FREEMAN NYE

Delivered at the Centenary Service

July 14, 1902

 

            One of the men to whom the Church, whose one-hundreth [sic] anniversary we are celebrating, owes its existence, was Judge Pliny Moore, born in Sheffield, Mass., April 14th, 1759.

 

            In 1782 he received a Lieutenant's commission in the American army, having already, while in the service, made a journey with a detachment of the American forces, down the West shore of Lake Champlain.  

 

            On this journey he was so much taken with the Valley of the Big Chazy river, and its possibilities, that at the close of the war he began buying up soldiers' land claims, which he located and surveyed in the year 1785, and in the same year obtained from the state of New York, in common with nineteen associates, among which number were Elnathan Rogers and Samuel Ashmun, a patent for 11,600 acres of land, known as the Moorsfield Grant, lying on the west side of Lake Champlain, near the Chazy River, adjoining the 45th parallel of North Latitude. 

 

            This tract he surveyed and laid off into lots, for all the owners and in 1787, on a division of the tract, received by deed — partly as his proper share and partly for services in the survey of the tract, 4070 acres.   Two other of the original owners of the Patent, Elnathan Rogers and Samuel Ashmun, also came to the valley of the Chazy, and occupied their shares of the Patent, with their families — the share of the former being 900 acres, and that of the latter, 280 acres.

 

            The Moore family in its two branches — that of Judge Pliny Moore and Dr. Benjamin Moore, his brother, the Corbin, the Rogers, the Hubbell, the Ashmun and the Savage families, were prominently connected with the early history of the Town. 

 

            In fact their ownership of so considerable a portion of this part of it, and of the water privileges of the Chazy, gave them control of the industrial life of the community, at a time when its growth and development demanded energy, means, good judgment and skill.    In 1788 the Town of Champlain was organized, taking in Chazy, Mooers, Altona, Ellenburgh and Clinton, as these towns now exist, Franklin County and a part of St. Lawrence.    In the same year Clinton County was set off from Washington, and Plattsburgh pushed her boundary north, so as to take in Beekmantown, as it now is.

 

            At the time of the formation of Clinton County, Pliny Moore was appointed Assistant Justice, later a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and in 1807, was commissioned First Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, by Governor Morgan Lewis, which office he held until disqualified by the age limit of sixty years.

 

            In the fourteen years from the organization of the Town until 1802 a strong religious sentiment had grown up in the community, due in part to the preaching of missionaries.   The Moores, Rogers and Ashmuns brought, no doubt, from Massachusetts the principles of orthodox Congregationalism, and the Savages, Martins, Dunnings and Hicks, coming to the town later, were grounded in the same faith.   The ground was prepared and seeded and it needed only the preaching of the missionaries to quicken the seed.

 

            I mention these names because the bearers of them, and their lineal and collateral descendants, have been prominent in the Church and in society, through the whole hundred years of the Church's life.

 

            On the 13th day of July, 1802, ten pious men and women united to form the First Presbyterian Congregational Church and Society of Champlain.   Their names were Pliny Moore, William Savage, Martha Savage, David Savage, Ebenezer Dunning, Robert Martin, Sarah Martin, Sarah Hamilton, Jonathan Darrow and Samuel Hicks.

 

            The name of Samuel Hicks, I think from good evidence, surely should be included among the list of original members, and through mistake has been omitted from the list inscribed on the memorial window in the vestibule.   William Savage and Martha, his wife, with their son David, made up nearly one-third of the original membership, not only in number but in zeal and piety.   I make particular mention of this family because the Church has ever been stronger for the loyalty and fidelity of its members.

 

            I speak with no uncertainty when I say that the debt this Church owes to the different branches of the Savage family, was and is known, by observation, experience and hearsay, to every one with eyes, heart and ears, who has lived in this Town for the last hundred years; and I venture to say that no church in the State, and perchance in the United States, has received, for so long a time, such devoted, loyal service from so many persons of the same blood, as the Presbyterian and Congregational Church of Champlain has received at the hands of William and Martha Savage and their son, David, and their descendants.

 

            The first minister of the Church was Rev. Benjamin Wooster the first Deacon, David Savage, and the first Scribe Judge Pliny Moore, elected in 1804.    The first trustees were Judge Pliny Moore, David Savage, Joseph Corbin, Joseph King, Ebenezer Dunning and Samuel Ashmun.

 

            The Reverend Wooster preached for a short time only, and for a large part of the first four years of the Church's life, the pulpit was supplied with preaching by missionaries and preachers who occasionally visited the town.

 

            In 1806, when the membership had grown to fourteen, the Rev. Amos Pettengill first visited the town and preached.    After a short stay he made a journey through the wilderness to Lake Ontario, in the vicinity of which he established several churches and returned in March, 1807, when after preaching for a while as a candidate for settlement, he was installed as pastor on July 8th, by a council of the Church.    In the memoirs of Mr. Pettengill is found the following delightful account of the scene and some of the incidents of the installation ceremony.

 

            "The Church consisted of fourteen members, and the installation took place on a little island which lies near the north bank of a beautiful river running beside the village.    The stage was in the centre of a charming grove, in the midst of which stood here and there a tall branching elm.    This being the first religious service of the kind, I believe, in the country, Christians and others assembled in great numbers from every quarter.   In the midst of the interesting exercises a shower arose, and the cloud bellowing thunder, together with the vivid flashes forking in every direction, while the rain was pouring torrents, formed a scene of majesty and sublimity rarely witnessed and scarcely susceptible of an adequate description.    What heightened its interest was the descent of the Holy Ghost; the fruit of which was an accession to the Church of about thirty persons."

 

            Island Park is the island of the installation ceremony of ninety-five years ago.

 

            The text of Mr. Pettengill's was "I seek not yours but you”.  2 Cor. xxii, 14.   An exalted theme, nobly chosen, showing the self‑renouncing purpose that inspired this godly preacher.

 

            A revival followed shortly after, and two of the converts became ministers of the Gospel.   One of these was Jehudi Ashmun, son of Samuel Ashmun, known to fame as the first agent and missionary of the Colonization Society in the Colony of Liberia, Africa.

 

            I think it safely within the truth to say that in all its history this Church has never numbered in its communion a member more worthy of love and admiration, or a member as distinguished, as Jehudi Ashmun came to be, for noble and telling service in the cause of Christianity and humanity.    Born in this village in 1794; after being graduated at Burlington College in 1816, he prepared for the ministry, was ordained, and for a while served as a professor in the Theological Seminary at Bangor, Maine.    Afterwards, removing to Washington, D. C., he became an Episcopalian, and engaged for a time in literary work, editing the memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Bacon, and publishing one number of a monthly Journal of the Colonization Society.    The Journal died a natural death after its first number was issued, as was perhaps natural considering the uncongenial atmosphere it breathed in the pro-slavery surroundings of the Nation's Capital in 1822.   Appointed by the Society that year as its agent, he sailed for the Colony of Liberia on July 22d, and arrived on the African coast on August 8th.    Ashmun was authorized to take charge, in case he found no agent of the society in the colony, and bore with him also a commission from the United States government to act for the Navy Department.

 

            Finding no resident agent on his arrival, he assumed the agency at a critical period of the Colony's existence.    The colonists were weak in numbers, and hemmed in by numerous and fierce foes.    Ashmun was forced to perform the functions of executive and legislator, commandant and engineer to lay out fortifications and superintend their construction, and this at a time of sore affliction from the death of his wife, and while suffering himself with a fever — and to inspire the colonists at the same time with a resolute purpose of self-defence.

 

            About three months after his arrival, just as his health was beginning to mend, and while his fighting force numbered only 35 men and boys, they were attacked at the dull dawn of a November day by 800 armed savages.    Though fighting at great odds, the little force, animated by the valor of its leader, succeeded in repulsing the enemy with a loss of four Colonists killed and four wounded; and a few days later utterly defeated the natives, who had returned to the assault with redoubled numbers.

 

            When continued ill-health compelled Ashmun to take a voyage to America in 1828 he was escorted to the seaport by three companies of militia, and the men, women and children of the colony parted from him with tears and lamentations.    He left behind him as a grand result of his six years toil a colony of 1,200 freemen.    He reached New Haven on August 10th, and died a fortnight later.    In his sickness and suffering he was very patient and humble; he said, "I have come here to die.    It is hard to be broken down by the slow process of disease.  I wish to be submissive.    My sins, they seem to shut me out from that comfort which I wish to enjoy.    I have been praying for light, and a little light has come, cheering and refreshing beyond all expression." He was only 34 years old when he died.

 

            A very eloquent and touching sermon was preached at his funeral by Rev. Leonard Bacon of the First Congregational Church of New Haven, portraying his lovely and remarkable character, the important influence on the tribes of Africa, of his piety and regard for justice, and his great services to the Colonists.

 

            A very touching incident of his death was the sweet determination of his aged mother to attend the funeral.   In the face of almost insurmountable difficulties — the opposition of her family, her limited means and the difficulties of travel, a quarter of a century before this part of the country knew railroad, she managed to reach the New Haven church only as the funeral benediction was being said.

 

            Mrs. Sigourney composed these beautiful lines with other verses of a like nature, in memory of the dead soldier, priest and friend of the colonists of Liberia:

 

                        Their Leader when the blast

                        Of ruthless war swept by;

                                                Their Teacher when the storm was past:

                                                Their Guide to worlds on high.

 

            We willingly share with a sister denomination the glory of this man's life—there was enough of it for both of us.   At the same time we must be pardoned if we intimate, on an occasion like this, that its grand fruition was rooted fast and firm in the noble inspiration that had its rise in the preaching of Rev. Amos Pettengill, and his revival services in the Congregational Church of Champlain.

 

            At the beginning of its history the Church held public services in the dwelling house of Judge Pliny Moore, and in the homes of the other members, and later in the frame school house, the predecessor of the brick district school house, that with its belfry, stood on the site of the present Parochial school house.   The belfry had its reason of being on the top of the school house.   The building was erected by the Congregational Church and the School District jointly, and when the church's first house of worship was built on the hill near the railway station, the school district paid the church $600 for their interest in the lot and building.   This money went into the new church.

 

            Those were easy days for the usually weary church trustees, for the Reverend Pettengill could ask for no more than the slender sum of $6. per week as salary.   We hope the trustees did not drive a hard bargain when they indited the call.    We may be sure that the services of the reverend gentleman were of full value and stamped with the sterling mark.   Perhaps money was worth more than it is now.

 

            After five years of faithful labor Mr. Pettengill gave up his charge in 1812.   Fifty-four members were added to the church during his pastorate.

 

            A season of religious decline fell on the Church during the two years following his departure; due largely to the disturbing influences of the War of 1812-`14, and chief among these was the presence in the village and on the Camp Ground on the hill above the Gun Club house at different times, of considerable bodies of American and British troops.   In September, 1812, General Dearborn and his command lay encamped on the Camp Ground, and in March, 1814, another American General, Wilkinson, and 4,000 soldiers were stationed in our village; while in September, 1814, Gen. Sir George Provost and 14,000 Britishers occupied the Camp Ground.

 

            Our pious fore-fathers no doubt fought against the baneful practices and teachings of the camp; but in spite of their efforts, the love for worldly dissipation more than kept pace with the desire for theological disputation in the community.   The Reverends Halsey, Elliott, Rowley, Kingsley and Lorry preached in the church at different times during the war.

 

            In 1817 Presbyterianism began to lock horns with Congregationalism in the Church, and the Church united with the Presbytery, under a device known as the Essex Union, a sort of “modus vivendi”, by which Congregationalists and Presbyterians could act in harmony in the fold of the Presbytery, without stiffling Congregationalism pure and simple or hamstringing the stern verities of true and blue Presbyterianism.

 

            Reading Meetings and Prayer Meetings, of which the Deacons and young Ashmun took charge, largely made up the life of the Church down to 1819.

 

            In 1819 the Sunday School was started by Mrs. Noadiah Moore.   Getting her idea of a Sunday School from her native town of Middlebury, Vermont, which was then a college town and a hot-bed of Congregationalism, she called a meeting at the ever-open home of Deacon David Savage, and remarking, "they have a Sunday School in Middlebury, why can't we have one here?" got help enough from those present to start the School at once.

 

            From 1824 to 1829 the Church was only occasionally supplied with preaching.   In May, 1829 the Rev. Horatio Foote became Pastor and preached with marked success for two years, during which time 103 members were added to the Church.

 

            The year 1829 marked an epoch in the spiritual and temporal life of the Church.   The religious awakening under the Rev. Foote began, and the congregation took possession of their first House of Worship.   By the will of Judge Pliny Moore, who died in 1822, there was devised to the Church and Society one acre of land for the purpose of erecting a Meeting House and "other buildings for the accomodation of people attending church meeting to cover their horses in bad weather," so the will reads, on any part of the Judge's land within half a mile of the village, only not on the lower ground where the buildings in the village were.   The will also contains this clause, "it is my wish that it should be built on the hill, a little south of the East Battery, where the artillery were encamped."   The will also contains a bequest of $1,000. to aid in the erection of the church.

 

            There seems to be some doubt whether the lot on which the church was built was the one indicated by the Judge in his will.   Be this as it may, the lot chosen was that on which stands the home of the late Timothy Hoyle, Esq., now owned and occupied by Mr. White.

 

            The church was built of brick, and the sacred quiet of the place was not disturbed by railway rumblings or whistles.   Even with the present nearness of the railway tracks and the consequent noise at certain times, it is a matter for regret that the church does not now stand on the old lot on the hill. 

 

            The Church having now a place of worship wanted only a parsonage.   The men of the Society had apparently exhausted themselves in the building of the church, for the building of the parsonage fell, where the finishing up and the cleaning up of all the minor church jobs always falls, after the men have presided, talked and resolved at inceptive Church meetings, on the women.   As is usual, they lost no time in fitting their shoulders to the yoke, and on the first Wednesday of May, 1829, they met at the home of Mrs. Caroline Mattocks Moore, and with the natural and laudable predilection for parliamentary methods of procedure, proceeded to adopt a Constitution for "The Female Society for the Support of the Gospel Ministry by the Purchase of a Parsonage for the Use of the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Congregational Church of the Town of Champlain."    The Society was duly empowered to enact by-laws not inconsistent with the Constitution.    The every-day title was "The Ladies' Parsonage Society," — always used when the ladies were off duty, so to speak, and not in parliamentary uniform.

 

            I make particular mention of this organization because I consider it the forerunner and the inspiration of the several benevolent, Bible, tract, missionary and Ladies' Aid societies that have built up and kept up the spiritual and temporal interests of the Church from the beginning to the present time.

 

            The Society's first officers were: Mrs. Polly Hicks, president; Mrs. Adah Savage, vice-president; Mrs. Sophia Whiteside, treasurer; Mrs. Caroline M. Moore, secretary, and Miss Harriet Hicks and Miss Cornelia Schuyler, solicitors for the month of May.   The term "solicitors" had no legal significance, but merely pointed to the commendable sphere of begging for materials and work, in which the two ladies named promised to immerse themselves for one month.

 

            In the minutes of the Society there is utter absence of any reference to tea drinking, a social hour, or that delightful inter change of words and thoughts on current, personal happenings, that ill-disposed and ignorant people call gossip!   The time schedule of the organization allowed for none of these diversions; the Society was instituted for work, and as soon as organized, lost no time in begining [sic] to work for the object of its existence.   It is recorded that Mrs. Finney, at one sitting of the Society, cut out one pair of pantaloons.   This, however, is nothing to the achievement of Mrs. Brisbin, who is credited, on a hot July day, with quilting one bed-quilt, piecing another, and making one cap.

 

            Wool coming direct from the sheep, was prepared for the carding machines by the ladies; and bed-quilts, collars, shirts, caps, socks and pantaloons were made up for sale.   The ladies owned sheep, as I shall show you later on.   Sheep were a marvelous source of revenue in those days, and were valued gifts.   I have heard of one Champlain girl in those days, who from the increase of a few sheep presented to her in her girlhood, found herself possessed of funds enough on marriage, at nineteen, to buy a gold watch.

 

            It would hardly seem that these energetic ladies needed any spur to exertion, yet it would appear that some of the members were found to have been tired when they joined, for Silas Hubbell, Esq., in the first month of their work, donated $1.00 to the organization as a stimulus to exertion, so the record of proceedings runs.

 

            A gift of sheep was also recorded, as the following letter in the archives of the Society shows:

 

            To the Pres't. of the Ladies' Parsonage Society.

 

Dear Madame:

 

Permit me to enclose to you an order on Mr. Nathaniel Nichols for a few sheep, which I beg the acceptance of, as a donation to your laudable Society.

 

            Wishing you success in your industry,

                        I remain, very respectfully yours,

 

La Cole, Jan'y. 1830.                                     Henry Hoyle

 

            The unremitting toil of the ladies told, and told quickly, for on January 2nd, 1830 it was "voted to erect the Parsonage on an acre of land situate between Mr. Ashmun's house and the house of Mr. R. C. Moore, (1902, Mr. Avery's, and later owned by Mr. Steve Storms) and to Commence building this season."

 

            On June 18th, 1830, the Society met at Mrs. Caroline M. Moore's for the purpose of preparing the wool for the machine, and determining what use to make of it.    The amount of wool negotiated was 19 pounds, 2 ounces of fine, and 3 pounds, 11 ounces of coarse.

 

            I make mention of these homely but vastly useful productions of the Ladies' Parsonage Society, because against so dull a background, the lovely colors of the beautiful varieties of fancy work that deck the tables of our modern Fairs seem to stand out in vivid relief, and take on added brilliancy.

 

            At a Special Meeting in April, 1830, the Society decided to build a parsonage on a half acre of land adjoining the residence of Royal C. Moore, Esq., to the north. Mrs. Caroline M. Moore, Mrs. Bostwick and Mrs. Savage were appointed a building committee, and on May 11th an arrangement was made with Noadiah Moore, Esq., whereby he agreed to superintend the construction of the building, and to prosecute the work as far and as fast as funds for the purpose were forthcoming.

 

            The project of building of stone was abandoned, and the Parsonage, substantially as it stood before the late repairs were made, was the result of the ladies' steady and determined work.

 

            In December, 1831, the Church Benevolent Society was formed.   It afforded aid to home and foreign missions, the Sunday School, and to the Bible, Tract, Educational, Seamen's Friend, Colonization and Temperance Societies and also to the General Union for the better observation of the Sabbath.

 

            On November 2, 1831 Rev. Ezra D. Kinney was installed as pastor of the Church and continued his labors as such until 1835.    During his pastorate 155 members were added to the Church.

 

            From August, 1835 to August 1836 the Rev. Horatio Foote, a former pastor, preached for the Church.    After Mr. Foote, and for seventeen months, the pulpit was supplied by different ministers under temporary engagements.

 

            In January, 1838, the Rev. Abram D. Brinkerhoff began his labors as settled pastor of the Church, and continued as such for twelve years, when, on account of failing health he resigned his charge.

 

            The Ladies' Benevolent Society had been actively engaged in the free distribution of Bibles throughout the Town, and the effects of this work was felt particularly by the Roman Catholic clergy.    A Catholic church had been organized in the Town in 1818, and later the stone church building at Corbeau, now Cooperville, was erected; for a long time the only Catholic church in the Town.   In 1842 the effect of Protestant Bibles had become so distasteful to the Catholic Priest at Corbeau that he ordered every Protestant Bible in the possession of his parishoners to be brought to the church on a stated Sunday, and there, in the road in front of the church, they were publicly burned — a sort of religious "auto-da-fe" that, meant for disdain and destruction, served only to illustrate the indestructible power of the truth.   Through the distribution of the Bibles it is quite certain that members of some Roman Catholic families were turned to Protestantism.   The Bibles were not wasted, for the spirit of persecution behind the burning made converts — as the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church.

 

            In 1843 the Anti-Slavery movement got a foot-hold in the Church.   The teachings of William Lloyd Garrison and his "Liberator", and of Wendell Phillips, began to bear fruit.   The movement found advocates and supporters in our Town — few in number, to be sure, but strong in faith and instant in season and out of season in their advocacy of Anti-Slavery doctrines.   Among the principal of these Anti‑Slavery men were Noadiah Moore, Silas Hubbell, Orson Branch Ashmun and Lorenzo Kellogg. Most, if not all, of them were members of this Church, and endeavored to get the Church Meeting to make a pronouncement favorable to Anti-Slavery tenets at its meeting on December 1, 1843; but the effort was attended with indifferent success, as is shown by the equivocal stand taken by the ecclesiastical body in the handling of the following resolutions, offered by Noadiah Moore:

 

            Resolution One read thus: "Resolved that as a Church we regard American Slavery as a sin, and that as such it is not only the privilege but the duty of the Church to bear testimony against it."   This resolution was passed, and the Church Meeting fairly impaled a motion that was not on its calendar. 

 

            Resolution Two read like this: "Resolved that it is lawful and proper, within the house of God and in the Place of Prayer, and on all other days of the week, at suitable times, and in a kind and Christian spirit, to address the hearts and consciences of our fellow-citizens, and seek to convince them that slave-holding is a heinous crime in the sight of God; and that duty, safety, and the best interests of all concerned require its immediate abandonment."    The Meeting refused the jump, and the resolution was voted down; the only instance I have ever heard of where Presbyterians, when they discovered sin, refused to tell their neighbors to abandon it.

 

            The laws of the State of New York, in the early part of the century, allowed the holding of slaves — limiting the number to three to one owner — and Moore had been the owner of, however, he freed prior to his death in 1822.

 

            The ridicule heaped on our four Anti-Slavery men at the time, and later, on "Old Abe, the Rail Splitter", seems strange in the light of subsequent events.   The Anti-Slavery movement came and went, its functions fully performed; the views of Garrison, Phillips, and the Anti-Slavery men of our Church were vindicated by Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation; the Civil War came and noble foes met and struggled; but, better than any vindication of principles, better than any victory of arms, was the re‑union of the two sections of a great country into one Nation, that rose phoenix‑like from the ashes of war and strife, with one flag and one allegiance, whose people, loving liberty and hating oppression, within the last five years have marched from North and from South to fight shoulder to shoulder against Spanish tyranny and misrule—the common foes of liberty and of humanity.

 

            On June 17, 1844, during the pastorate of Mr. Brinkerhoff the brick church on the hill was destroyed by fire; the work of an incendiary.

 

            The Church and Society immediately built the Session House the brick building north of the (old) Bank building on Canada (Oak) Street, as a temporary place of worship; and at the same time began preparations for a new church.

 

            The first thing was to procure a site, and the lot on which the Champlain House now stands was chosen and bought.   But the establishment of a public house and of a new church at the same time was a matter of general village interest, and as the new hotel was projected, the village people and the church people decided that it was better to have the public house in the center of the business part of the town, and the church in a quieter part of the village, so an exchange was effected and the church was built on its present site.   Soon funds were gathered from the sale of the church lot on the hill.   These were probably invested in the Session House, and later, when this building was sold, the proceeds were turned in to the church‑building fund.

 

            By the 18th of January, 1849, the new church was finished, and in the church records, under this date we find this minute:  "This day the new House of Worship, built by the Church and Society, was dedicated to the worship of God."   The dedicatory sermon was by Rev. John Mattocks, of Keeseville, and the prayer by Rev. David Dobie of Plattsburgh.

 

            The lot cost $900., the building $8,000., the bell $300., and the pipe organ, added some years later, was the gift of the late George V. Hoyle, Esq., to whom this church is further indebted for benefactions and for financial and spiritual support, which will ever keep his name in loved and honored memory in this Church and Society.

 

            As originally built, this building contained a gallery and organloft at the far end, which was removed in 1873 when alterations and repairs were made.   The organ was lowered and placed where it now (1902) stands in the vestibule of the main floor.

 

            Rev. Mr. Brinkerhoff gave up his charge in 1850, but continued to live in the village, and preached occasionally.   He died in 1860, loved and respected by all.   His funeral service was held in the church that had been built during his pastorate, was very largely attended, and thirteen ministers acted as pall-bearers.

 

            Rev. Nathan Leighton succeeded Mr. Brinkerhoff, beginning his work as paster [sic] on July 15, 1851, at a salary of $400. and the use of the parsonage.   He resigned his charge after three years service.   His pastorate was marked by his device and introduction of a scheme of systematic benefactions to various benevolent objects, that worked in after years a great increase in the church offerings to the various Boards and Societies of the Church at large.   From the date of his resignation until September, 1855, the pulpit was filled for a part of the time by Rev. Byron Bosworth and by the Rev. A. Parmelee, D.D., of Malone.

 

            In September, 1855, the Rev. Selden Haines became pastor at a salary of $800 and the use of the parsonage.

 

            At this time the membership of the Church was diminished in numbers and in strength by deaths and emigration Westward.   The organization of the Methodist and Adventist Churches in 1843, and the establishment of the Episcopal church in 1852, all of which bodies had gained a foothold in the Town, helped to increase the diminution.

 

            Mr. Haines gave up his charge October 1, 1858, thirty-three new members having been added to the Church during his ministry, while sixteen were dismissed by letter to other churches.

 

            In February, 1859, Rev. Jonathan Copeland was installed as pastor, at a salary of $750.   He gave up his charge in September, 1866, but supplied the pulpit until the Fall of 1867.

 

            On March 2, 1860, the following resolution was passed at Church Meeting: "Resolved that we institute a Parish Library for general circulation in the Church and Society, and that the unappropriated funds of the collections of last year, and the monthly collections of the five months not now appropriated to specific objects, be devoted to the purchase of books for the library and Sunday School; and that Henry Doolittle be librarian of the Parish Library."

 

            In July, 1859, the afternoon church service was given up, and never resumed.

 

            "On January 4, 1861 Church met on recommendation of President Buchanan, and spent a season in prayer for the preservation of our National Union."   So the record runs.

 

            During the Winter of 1865-6 revival services were held by Mr. Copeland, assisted by a former pastor, the venerable Rev. Ezra D. Kinney, and as a result nearly one hundred members were added to the Church on a single Sunday of the May following—most of them receiving the ordinance of baptism.   The whole number added to the membership of the Church during the ministry of Mr. Copeland was one hundred and fifty-eight.

 

            In July, 1868, the Rev. William Whittaker became pastor of the Church, resigning in 1872.

 

            On July 1, 1873, the Rev. E. A. Lawrence, Jr., became pastor at a salary of $1,500 a year and the use of the parsonage.   He resigned his charge in 1875.   After the departure of Mr. Lawrence the Rev. Willard Childs supplied the pulpit until December, 1876, when the Rev. F. Barrows Makepeace became pastor at a salary of $1,200 and the parsonage.

 

            We have to thank Mr. Makepeace for the institution of the Annual Church Fair, which, under the charge of the Ladies' Aid Society, has held twenty-four successive annual exhibitions.   The Ladies' Aid Society is an old institution in the Church, though the members are all young,, and it is due the genius of Mr. Makepeace to say that he put in the hands of the ladies a most efficient contrivance for the production of revenue.   The net results in money of the twenty-four Fairs is $6,828.32; average annual return $285.    The highest net receipts were those of 1886, $443.31, and the lowest those of 1879, $63.92.

 

            Mr. Makepeace resigned in 1881. From that date until January, 1883 the pulpit was filled by several ministers under temporary engagements.    On the last date the Rev. C. K. VanDoren became pastor at a salary of $1,000 a year.   After a short pastorate he resigned his office, and in the June following Rev. Thornton A. Mills was installed as pastor at a salary of $1,000.   In October of the same year he asked to be relieved on account of ill health, and on October 17, 1883, Presbytery dissolved his connection with the Church.   His brother, Rev. B. Fay Mills, supplied the pulpit until November of the same year, when a call was extended to him to become pastor at a salary of $1,200 a year, with the use of the parsonage.   The call was accepted and Mr. Mills ministered to the Church until November, 1884.

 

            In January, 1885, the Rev. S. G. Boardman began preaching as supply under an agreement to minister to the Church for one year from the following May at a salary of $1,000 and the parsonage. Mr. Boardman's character and intellectual attainments won for him the respect and affection of the Church, and his ministrations were highly appreciated. Against the expressed wishes of the Trustees he gave up his charge in July, 1888.

 

            The Rev. Joseph Dixon began preaching in August, 1888, as supply. In September, 1889, a formal call to become pastor at a salary of $1,000 a year was extended to him and accepted.

 

            On January 16, 1889, Mr. Martin V. B. Stetson, after seventeen years of most faithful, earnest service, resigned his position as Superintendent of the Sunday School, and with his family removed to Gloversville, N. Y., to the deep regret of the Sunday School, and carrying with him to his new home the respect and the warm esteem of the Church and Society.

 

            On October 1, 1892, the Rev. Joseph Dixon resigned his charge, and on March 4, 1893, our present pastor, the Rev. William Fraser, took pastoral charge of the Church.

 

            For the first sixty years of the Church's life the engine of Church Meeting discipline was frequently set in motion against delinquent Church members.   Various offences are noted in the records; such as non-attendance at the stated meetings of the church, intemperance, and belief in the so-called Adventist doctrines.   The offending member was formally summoned before Church Meeting; in a very solemn way the formulated charges against him were read, and in many cases noted, a confession of his fault and a promise of amendment, made at the following stated service of the Church, restored the offender to full fellowship.

 

            In some cases, when total abstinence or an abandonment of Adventist views was demanded and refused — and there are several cases of the kind mentioned—the offending member was excommunicated in public Church Meeting.

 

            A unique case of its kind was that of a brother who was disciplined because, the record reads, "he refuses and has refused for a long time to pay his subscription for the support of the Gospel."    The discipline worked repentance, the delinquent acknowledged his offending and promptly paid up.   This method of treatment proving effectual, the next Church Meeting, with a tender solicitude, perhaps, for the liquidation of future subscription lists of the Church, passed this resolution: "Resolved, that it is disciplinable for a member of the Church to refuse to pay his due proportion (reference being had to his ability to pay) for the support of the Gospel in this Church."   I find nowhere a repeal of this statute, and I suppose that it is good Church law to-day.

 

            The Church Meeting in those days was a very clever body, keen to preserve its dignity and to maintain any stand it took and exceedingly nice in its theological distinctions, as the following case of discipline will show: a respectable Church member living near the village, whose wife was sick, left her on a Saturday under an engagement to carry a traveller, with horse and wagon to La Prairie.   He made the trip and returned home on the following Sunday.   He was immediately summoned before Church Meeting to answer to a charge of Sabbath desecration.   He asknowledged [sic] his apparent offence, but excused it on the ground of his desire to be with his sick wife.   He was absolved from the charge of Sabbath desecration, but held for discipline for the unchristian act of leaving his sick wife on Saturday.   The Church Meeting seemingly did not propose to convene for purposes of discipline and adjourn without finding an indictment.

 

            An occasion like this must not pass without mention of two valuable gifts the Church has in late years received from one of its members, Mrs. George V. Hoyle; gifts that are most thoroughly appreciated by the members of the Church and congregation.   The first, a gift of $300, which, with the sale of the old bell, which was cracked and valuable only as bell-metal, paid for our present bell; the other, a gift of the complete installation of electric lights, costing about $500.

 

            In looking over the Church records I was surprised to find how many people now living in the Village and Town, belong as members to the Presbyterian Church; and at the same time, how many families, that we could ill afford to lose, have moved away in late years.   I need not tell you what the Doolittle family, the Cook family, and the Stetson family have been to this Church in the past, but I must tell the survivors of these families how much we think of them on this centennial occasion; how we hold the dead members of their families in loving remembrance—how much we wish the survivors were with us to-night; and we proffer to the Rev. Peter J. H. Myers, a brother of Mr. Lucas Doolittle, the love and affection that this Church and Society feels for him.

 

            The Sunday School, organized in 1819, has had as Superintendents, Hascall D. Savage, George V. Hoyle and Martin V. B. Stetson.   The largest number connected with the School at any time was 343 scholars and teachers.   In the year 1865 it contributed $451.54 to benevolent objects—perhaps the largest contribution the School ever made in any one year.

 

            The Ladies' Missionary Society, which holds a prominent place in the organization of the Church, was started in 1878.   It has demonstrated practically its zeal for mission work, by contributing, since 1882, the sum of $1,445.49 to the cause of Home and Foreign Missions; and now, in this Centennial Year of Home Mission Work in America, and on the one-hundreth birthday of our Church, the Society is giving as a thank‑offering to Almighty God, and in commemoration of these centennial services, the sum of $125. to the Woman's Board of Home Missions, to aid in the prosecution of mission work.

 

            We remember with pride the past of this Church, its ministers, its deacons, its people and its piety.   The history of its ministry and deaconate has been clearly and eloquently unfolded to us to-day by Rev. Mr. Myers and by Mr. Egbert C. Everest.

 

            Let us hold fast the memories as an inspiration for the future.

 

                                    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

                                    Lest we forget, lest we forget.

 

 

 

 

The Past Twenty‑five Years of the Church

 

By Rev. D. Elmer Hattie, Pastor

 

            Sabbath, the 10th day of July, 1927, was noted as the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the First Presbyterian Congregational Church and Society in Champlain.   On that occasion interested and devout congregations crowded the church at morning and evening services, and also at the special Children's Service.   Features of the anniversary were the sermons by Rev. C. Frederick Fraser, the son of a former pastor, and a paper full of historical interest delivered by Egbert C. Everest, Esq., of Plattsburgh, a descendant of the Savage family which took such an active part in the life of this Church.

 

            From this anniversary, as a mile stone, it is fitting that we glance backward over the history of the last twenty-five years.   When the centenary of the Church was observed in 1902, Rev. William Fraser was the pastor, having begun his ministry on March 4, 1893.   He continued to exercise the gifts of his calling here until February 17, 1912, when he was called to Higher Service.   His passing was like the "star which goes not down behind a dark horizon, but melts away into the light of Heaven."

 

            On July 1, 1912, Rev. William T. Eaton became pastor, and continued his ministry until June, 1918, when he resigned the pulpit.   He was succeeded by Rev. Charles Edward Fay, who was installed December 4, 1918, coming from Morristown in the Presbytery of St. Lawrence. Mr. Fay resigned in August, 1925, on account of the ill health of Mrs. Fay, and is now living at Ausable Forks, N. Y.   He still exercises his ministry as occasion offers.

 

            The present pastor, Rev. D. Elmer Hattie, came into the charge in November, 1925, from the Presbytery of Hanna, Alberta, in the United Church of Canada.

 

            An interesting feature of the morning service of the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary was the reading to the congregation of a message from Rev. Frank B. Makepeace, who was minister of this Church from 1876 to 1881. Mr. Makepeace is now living in Grandby, Connecticut.

 

            In 1910, through the generosity of Mr. Silas P. Hubbell, the church building was remodelled and renovated throughout.   The old pews were replaced by modern seating, the organ and choir loft removed to its present position behind the pulpit, and the Sunday School room entirely remodelled.

 

            The Church has always been fortunate in the selection of Sunday School Superintendents.   Charles F. Nye was appointed in 1889, following the removal of Martin V. B. Stetson to Gloversville, and he continued faithfully to discharge his duties until his death, which occurred on December 23, 1905.   Mr. Nye was succeeded by Thomas Dickinson, who served faithfully until his death on March 5, 1918, and was followed by Albert H. Scriver, who resigned in December, 1925.   Mr. Scriver was diligent and faithful in his attendance and in the pursuance of the duties of a Sunday School Superintendent.   In December, 1925, Orville R. Dunn became Superintendent, bringing with him an optimism and determination which augurs well for the future of this most important organization of the Church.   A fine stereoptican has been added to the equipment, and it will be a great help in reviving and holding the interest of the children, for the ranks of the Sunday School have been depleted by the migration of the youth to the larger educational centers.

 

            The Service of Praise has always been of a high order in the Church.   For many years Mrs. A. L. Webb presided as organist with dignity and acceptance.   Others who have held that position were Miss Charlotte M. Barber, Miss Beatrice Scriver, Mrs. William F. Branch and the present efficient organist, Mrs. George R. Allen.   In Mr. Everest's address he dwelt upon the long and faithful service of many members of the choir during the past fifty years — Mrs. Charles E. Everest, Miss Hattie Biglow, Mrs. Walter H. Doolittle, Martin V. B. Stetson, A. L. Webb, Frank S. Channell and Charles A. Dudley.   [Also, Mrs. Maude H. Dudley as a member of the choir for over twenty-five years.]  The members of the present male choir are Arthur A. Hitchcock, who has been a member of the choir for over fifty years, Albert H. Scriver, Orville R Dunn, Arthur R. Atwood and Clarence A. Scriver.

 

            One of the lessons taught by this one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary is the swift passing of time; generation succeeds generation on the stage of time, but the work of the Church of Christ goes ever onward, new methods necessarily come with new administrators, but the fundamental Truths remain the same.  May this old Church, beloved by so many, long stand as a visible symbol here of the presence of Eternal Truth.

 

 

Five hundred copies of this Address were printed by Hugh McLellan, in the month of March 1928 at the Moorsfield Press, located in the Session House, Champlain, N. Y.   Tenth production of the Press.  Of the 500 copies 25 on Aurelian are numbered.     Number 85.

 

 

ERRATA

__________

 

 

Page iii, Change the first lines of the second paragraph to read: Mr. Nye expresses a doubt as to the site selected for the church by Judge Pliny Moore, but it seems to be quite fully indicated in the Judge's will.

 

Page 8, line 18, for Mooers read Moores.

 

Page 14, line 9, for when read where.

 

Page 23, lines 4 & 5, for Rev. J. J. H. Myers, etc. read Rev. Peter J. H. Myers, a brother of Mrs. Lucas Doolittle.

 

Page 26, line 33, for Miss Charlotte M. Biglow read Mrs. Charlotte M. Barber.  On the same page add the name of Mrs. Maude H. Dudley as a member of the choir for over twenty-five years.

 

 

            In a publication called “The Manual of the Presbyterian Congregational Church", printed in Malone, New York, in 1860, it listed all of the names of the members of the church which was founded in 1802.  A total of 630 names were recorded.  Hugh McLellan noted all of the names of “Moore” including many Moores that were not related to Pliny Moore.   These Moores are not listed here.

 

            The symbol’s below show the status of the person in 1860:

 

            #           Dead

            %         Dismissed

 

            #          Pliny Moore, Sen.    [Judge Pliny Moore]

            #          Mrs. Martha Moore    [Judge Moore’s wife]

            #          Mrs. Martha Doct. Moore  [Dr. Benjamin Moore’s wife]

            #          Noadiah Moore

                         Mrs. Noadiah Moore

            %         Martha Eliza Moore

            #          Matilda Moore

                         Pliny Moore

                         Mrs. Pliny Moore  [Pamela Savage]

            #           Doct. E. J. Moore  Dr. Edward J. Moore]

                         Mrs. E. J. Moore

 

            #          Mrs. Chas. S. Moore

            #           Miss Mary Ann Moore

            #           Solomon Moore

            %         Amasa C. Moore  

 

                        Royal C. Moore

                        Mrs. R. C. Moore





AN ADDRESS
                      OF CHARLES FREEMAN NYE ON THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN
                      CHURCH 1928
AN ADDRESS
                      OF CHARLES FREEMAN NYE ON THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN
                      CHURCH 1928
AN ADDRESS
                      OF CHARLES FREEMAN NYE ON THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN
                      CHURCH 1928
AN ADDRESS
                      OF CHARLES FREEMAN NYE ON THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN
                      CHURCH 1928
AN ADDRESS
                      OF CHARLES FREEMAN NYE ON THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN
                      CHURCH 1928
AN ADDRESS
                      OF CHARLES FREEMAN NYE ON THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN
                      CHURCH 1928
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