Our First One Hundred Years
In August 1803 the Baptist Church of Palmyra (now Macedon), granted letters to Joseph Case, a licentiate and other brethren to form a church. Early in 1804 these and others with Elder Case, who was soon ordained as their pastor, formed themselves into the Baptist Church in Northfield. This church numbering twenty-two members, the germ of the present Penfield church, united with the Cayuga Association in September 1804. On August 1, 1808 the name of the town was changed from Northfield to Boyle. In 1810 when Penfield was carved out of Boyle the church became known as the Baptist Church of Penfield. The church was later incorporated as the Baptist Church and Society of Penfield after New York State’s statute for incorporation of religious societies was passed in April 1813. Elder Joseph Case largely bestowed his labors on adjoining towns. During his pastorate and even longer, the infant church also enjoyed the useful labors of Joseph's brother, Elijah Case, a licentiate, “whose sepulcher is with us to this day.rdquo; Elder Elijah Case closed his nine years’ pastorate in 1812 and soon after went to his reward. It is not known that he received any pecuniary aid. Joseph Case, who helped establish many other churches in this area, died in Warsaw New York in 1832 at the age of 73.
In the year 1809, this church sent pastor and delegates to a council called to organize a church in the south west part of the town, which was united with the Cayuga Baptist Association in 1810 and was known as the Second Church of Boyle, later the First Baptist Church of Pittsford and now the United Church Of Pittsford (Baptist and Methodist federated).
The church, numbering seventy-five in 1813, called Bartlett Dake, a licentiate, who was soon after ordained. His ministry of four years was attended with some increase, but because of alleged immoralities he was silenced in 1816. His adherents withdrew and formed a second church, which maintained a separate existence for nearly seven years.
In September 1814, Penfield with twenty-two other churches met in Bristol and formed the Ontario Association.
The church called Elder Benjamin Caulkins in 1816 and he served two years. There was a revival of religion in 1817 in which fifty-seven were baptized.
During 1819 Elder Nehemiah Lamb served the church very acceptably, one half of the time. Elder Lamb died in Michigan, May 10, 1850, aged 73 years.
For one year, from January 1, 1820, Elder Thomas Tuttle divided his labors between the two churches, for which the church voted him “$40 in grain – wheat at four shillings, corn at two shillings.rdquo; In August of 1821 Elder Joseph Monroe became pastor of the first church for six months while Elder Tuttle continued to supply the second church until they were reunited in 1822 when planning began for a meeting house
In January 1822, Elder Joseph Maltby commenced his successful pastorate of three years, on a salary of $125, “to be paid in house rent, pasturing and producerdquo;. This same year the canal was opened between Albany and Rochester, giving new impetus to settlement and the development of surrounding towns. Increased wealth began to manifest itself also. Two prosperous events attended Elder Maltby’s labors; the reunion of the two churches alluded to above, and the building of a house of worship. This house, a wood structure, was erected about one half a mile east of its present location, at the corner of Baird and Penfield Roads. It was 40 X 50 feet in size, with a gallery on three sides and was completed in the fall of 1823 at a cost of $3496.05. Elder Maltby died in Copenhagen, NY July 11, 1845 aged 77 years.
An early trustees’ book came to light in the early 1950’s in the home of Mrs. Edith Rogers, on Dublin Road, whose father had been a clerk of the church. It had been in his possession for safe-keeping, and is now a part of the church’s records. The first part of the book is the record kept at the time when the church building was erected on the original site at the northwest corner of Penfield and Baird Roads. The first entry is for $2.00 for a day’s labor drawing stone and was paid to Jesse Austin and dated Jan 14, 1823. Then follows the names of Elisha Case, Alexander Case, Joseph Case, and also William Gorse “with cattle,rdquo; Tara Stephen, Peter Marlett, Aaron and Leonard Quick “with Oxenrdquo; and Rowell P. Payne also with oxen, all of whom received either $1.50 or $2.00 a day for drawing stone. Then on February 4th John Shoecraft furnished 859 ft. of siding and Ira Palmer brought three 10X14 beams 40 feet long for which he was paid $6.00. Two 50 feet sills cost $5.00 and these together with some 28 feet 12X12’s provided the framing for the structure. Christopher A Brizee, who was a town tavern keeper, boarded the workers Robert Gilman, Timothy Conant and Amasa H.Tickner who worked for two days each digging the trenches for the underpinning of the meeting-house. Stephen Wakelee was also paid for housing these men, and Benjamin Fox was paid $2.50 for two days work as a mason laying the wall. James Stern received $3.00 for four days work tending the mason. Listed as supplies were whitewood planks from Daniel Penfield’s Mill and bass wood “stuffrdquo; for flooring and also rafters and joists, lath and clapboards.
In June 1825, Elder Jason Corwin, a member of the first class graduating from Hamilton College, was called as pastor and served three years and ten months; with a salary $175 to $200. Under his able ministry there was a season of prosperity and increase, then the church shared with many others the great Anti-Masonic struggle. The contest went on, aggravated by political combinations; two parties were formed, manifesting much rashness and unchristian spirit on both sides. After much wrangling, the “Whitesboro Resolutionsrdquo; framed by a large convention of Baptists, strongly Anti-Masonic, yet conciliatory, were adopted by the church with admissions “that sufficient gentleness had not always been manifested towards the Masonic brethren.rdquo; Elder Corwin was obliged to leave the pastorate of the church in November 1828, and harmony was at length restored. It is just to say that Elder Corwin, though moderately Masonic, carried himself through this time of trial in a manner that met the approval of his ministering brethren of both parties. On invitation of a few Baptists in North Penfield, (now Webster) he commenced preaching there on the Ridge; a church was organized and later recognized as a regular Baptist church by a council called November 10, 1830. It was named the North Penfield church. Elder Corwin was pastor there for about three years. Of those uniting with that body, a large number were from the mother church. Elder Corwin closed the labors of a long and successful ministry in 1860.
The First Presbyterian Church of Penfield built its church edifice in 1825 on a lot donated by Daniel Penfield. “It is a fine brick structure having a capacity for seating four hundred persons; it is located on an old burying ground covering about sixty gravesrdquo; at the corner of South (now Five Mile Line Road) and Penfield Road. This body was organized in 1804 as a Congregational church and continued its existence until February, 1806, when the members resolved themselves into the First Presbyterian Church of Penfield. The Presbyterian Church continued to worship there until 1878, when the German Evangelical Congregation took over the building. Services continued until 1914.
The Monroe Baptist Association was organized October 18, 1827, “John Quincy Adams being President of the United States, Dewitt Clinton, Governor of the State of New York, and Mr. Brown Jr., President of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Rochester.rdquo; Delegates from six churches of the Genesee and three from the Ontario Association, of which Penfield was one, met in the Court House in Rochester and created the organization that in 1904 numbered thirty-four churches.
Five individuals began to meet as Free Will Baptists in the eastern part of town. When they grew to a membership of forty, they established a separate church. Their services were held in schoolhouses and barns until they built and completed a church edifice of brick in 1830 on the old stage road. In the same year the Methodist Episcopal Church of Penfield was organized. They held meetings in private houses and rented rooms until the completion of a church building in 1843. These separate organizations seemed in no way to interfere with the prosperity of this church, but manifested more fully Christ’s power to draw men unto Himself and extend His kingdom on the earth.
In April 1829 Elder Norman Bently was called to the church on a salary of $150 and served sixteen months. During that time thirty-four were baptized, among those baptized on March 7, 1830 are the names of some well known in the denomination, viz: Rev. Timothy Fuller, the Rev. Dr. Mason of Chelsea, Mass., and Jane Mason, his sister, who after becoming the wife of Rev. J. M. Haswell, was with him twenty-six years a missionary in Maulmain, Burma.
Elder Israel Robords was called in November 1830 and served the church three years and seven months, on a salary of $250 to $450. Under his ministry was enjoyed an almost constant revival, in connection with protracted meetings which had their origin about this time. The earnest manner of Elder Robords, and his unwearied activity, peculiarly fitted him for the revival effort of that day. He baptized two hundred seven in Penfield. In November 1834 Elder L.J. Reynolds was called and served six months.
In July 1835 Elder Simon G. Miner assumed the pastoral care of the church and remained twenty-six months. His faithful labors resulted in adding seventy to the church by baptism. After leaving Penfield he labored with great success in Indiana and Illinois. Insert 1872 picture
In December 1837 Brother Alfred H. Burlingame was called and ordained pastor on February 15, 1838 with a salary of $400. In the year 1839 the church moved its house of worship to its present location in the Village of Penfield and rebuilt it; enlarging and improving it at a cost of $4004.29.
A committee consisting of S. G. Chappell, Nelson Fullam, Harvey Fuller and Reuben Marlet was named to circulate a subscription list for the new meeting- house. . Amounts subscribed allowed the purchaser use of a “sliprdquo; or pew, which was priced according to its location in the building. The highest price was $200, the lowest $40 with the average around $100. A few remained unsold and were rented for about six or eight dollars a year. This plan remained in effect until 1862 when a motion was carried that “the slips (pews) in our meeting house be and the same are here-by declared free.rdquo; The firm of Manley and Oothout were paid $252 for the bell and another $44 for transporting and hanging. Evidently this bell was not pleasing for within eight years it was returned and a new one purchased which weighed 828 pounds and cost 28 cents per pound.
In 1840 the church enjoyed one of its most successful revivals. Eighty were baptized into membership. After a successful pastorate of three years and three months, Brother Burlingame was dismissed March 20, 1841. As a pastor he was watchful and sympathetic; and as a preacher lucid and convincing.
Next Elder B. N. Leach served the church eight and one half months from May 16, 1841; salary $500.
Brother Harvey Munger, “well reported ofrdquo; had care over the church nine and two-thirds months from February 12, 1842, with a of salary $400. In January 1842 the Baptist brethren and sisters of Perinton resolved to organize as a church body; (a church existed there “previous to 1820 with Elder Spencer as pastor and had joined the Monroe Association in 1834, but was dissolved in 1838.rdquo;) A council was called in February, and the organization perfected and recognized as the “First Baptist Church of Perinton.rdquo; Elder Munger acted as a supply to that church until they called a pastor in May. A goodly number were given letters from the Penfield church to unite with the church in Perinton, now the First Bapitst Church of Fairport.
Elder David Bernard was next called December 31, 1842 and remained with the church two years and eight months. The year 1843 was remarkable as a time of great religious revival, and Elder Bernard, ever active and zealous for souls, held several protracted meetings, resulting in the addition of 60 by baptism. In December of 1843, William Miller, the father of Adventism, gave a course of lectures in Penfield; although he advocated no views whose peaceful adoption need create any difficulty, yet here as elsewhere, his lecturing and his books gave rise to dissension and trouble and resulted in several exclusions.
On the 16th of November, 1845, Elder Jonas Woodard accepted the pastoral care of the church at a salary of $400. Several revival efforts during his faithful ministry resulted in 107 baptisms. One revival of special mention began in meetings held at Lovett’s Corners, (now East Penfield) in “Uncle Josey Fuller’s kitchen.rdquo; The meetings continued until the room could no longer accommodate the number attending, when the “landlord of the tavern opened the ballroom: and meetings were held there for a number of weeks resulting in a large number of conversions; the greater part joining the Baptist Church. Then followed the building of the little chapel known as “The Bethelrdquo; in 1847, at a cost of $250, to be used for out-station services; on land leased of Joseph Fuller for so “long as the building should be used for religious purposes.rdquo; During the ministry of Brother Woodard, more was done than ever before to bring the church into sympathy with the benevolent objects of the denomination. He was dismissed November 16, 1850, after a pastorate of five years.
The following December, 1850, the church called Elder Spencer S. Ainsworth, who served four years on a salary of $450 to $500. Thirty-two were baptized during his pastorate and the church largely increased its benevolent contributions. The fiftieth anniversary of the church was celebrated near the close of Brother Ainsworth’s pastorate. The record says “December 27, 1854; the Semi-centennial Celebration was held agreeable to appointment. Rev. Jonas Woodard preached at 1:00 p.m.; Rev. Timothy Fuller in the evening. On December 28; Rev. S.S. Ainsworth preached at 10:00 a.m.; at 1:00 in the afternoon a history of the church was read followed by a session of conference in which the pioneers of the church and community participated.rdquo; Elder Ainsworth left in 1854 under circumstances painful to the church and disgraceful to himself.