Churches in the City of Oswego, N.Y. 1906  
Churches and Brief Histories 
City of Oswego, N. Y. 1906

Many thanks and appreciation to Rose Hanington for her time and efforts in transcribing this articles on Churches and Brief Histories.  <>

Source:  Oswego Yesterday & Today, A Souvenir of the Celebration of Old Home Week and of the Re-Garrisoning of Fort Ontario, published under the auspices of The Chamber of Commerce, Oswego, NY, 1906.


     Natural advantages count for naught unless supplemented by the human qualities of intelligence, energy, love of learning and devotion to the church and to the home.  These attributes belong in a high degree to the people of this city.  Oswego was a fertile missionary field from its earliest days and the Jesuits who blazed the trail of christianity, left an influence on the pioneer settlement which has never been forgotten.  Circuit riders of the Methodist faith began their labors here as early as 1812 and occasionally an itinerant preacher of another denomination held religious services in some hospitable dwelling or barn.  Education and religion developed side by side, yet the former apparently had a visible existence several years before the first church organization was effected.

First Presbyterian Church, City of Oswego, NY 1906The First Presbyterian Church was organized November 21, 1816, and was the first religious body formed in the place.  It consisted of seventeen constituent members and Sylvanus Bishop was the first ruling elder.  The organization was effected in a school house by Rev. John Davenport of Onondaga, and Rev. David  R. Dixon  of Oneida. The first sacrament of the Lord's supper was administered Nov. 24,1816.
     The society worshipped in the little school house until 1835, when their first edifice and the first church building in Oswego was erected in the center of  the public square on the West side of the river.  It  was dedicated in 1826 and was occupied by the congregation till October 24, 1841, when it was destroyed by fire, the work of an incendiary.  It was a wooden structure, 44X 80 feet, and cost about $6,000.  In 1843 the present building was completed and in January, 1844, it was dedicated.  It stands on the corner of West Fourth and Bridge Streets and cost $10,500.  The stone chapel adjoining the church was erected in 1859 and cost $5,000.  For eight years after the organization in 1816 missionaries and neighboring ministers served its pulpit.  In 1825 Rev. James Abell became its first pastor.  The present pastor is Rev. Alvin E. Magary, who assumed the pastorate less than a year ago.

     The First Methodist Episcopal Church began with a class of three members in 1816, at which time Oswego was in the Sandy Creek Circuit, Oneida District, in which Elder George Gary, Luther Bishop and Enoch Barnes were preachers, Rev. Charles Gates, presiding elder. Mrs. Catherine Hawley was class leader and in her home many of the early meetings were held.  Later a room in a building at the corner of West Third and Schuyler Streets was secured and used in conjunction with other denominations. In 1829 Oswego was constituted a separate station, with Rev. John Sayer as preacher.  The society then began the erection of a chapel at the corner of West Fifth and Cayuga Streets, in a portion of the park.  In 1849 this building was burned and in 1850 the society erected their present edifice at the corner of West Fourth and Oneida Streets. Rev. Eugene H. Joy fills the pulpit at the present time and the congregation is prosperous and growing.

     Christ Episcopal Church was organized at a meeting held February 26, 1822, in the West side school house, Rev. Amos Pardee, a missionary, presiding at the meeting.  The edifice in which services are now held was erected in 1857 and cost $13,000.  In 1865, when the indebtedness of the church was cleared away, the church was consecrated by Bishop Coxe. Christ Church is prospering under the guidance of Rev. R. H. Gesner, who was recently called by the congregation from a thriving Connecticut parish.

   The First Baptist Church was organized with eleven members, March 13, 1828. The meetings were held for a time in the public school house. In 1831 a church was built in the East Park, fronting Oneida street, and cost $6,000.  The church was constructed of wood and plans are being prepared for reconstruction of brick.  Rev. J. Grant Lauderbaugh is the pastor of this church.

St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, City of Oswego, NY 1906St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church was organized in 1830.  Peter Lappin and twenty others, the only Catholic residents at that time in Oswego, invited Rev. Father O'Donohue, whose pastorate embraced all the villages in Central New York, to hold services here.  The first mass was celebrated in a private house.  Shortly after this a lot at the corner of East Fifth and Mohawk Streets was purchased and a small frame building was erected.  This was not large enough to meet the needs of the growing Catholic population and in a short time an addition to the little church was made.  Even this became too small and in 1840 the corner stone of a substantial stone edifice was laid.  The church erected at that time lasted for over thirty years and in  1871 it was razed and the  present structure, one of the largest church buildings in this part of the State, erected on  the  old site.  The  work  was  begun  and  completed under the direction of the present rector, Very Rev. Dean Barry, who came to St. Paul's in 1869.  Attached to the church is the parochial school which is attended by over 400 children of the congregation.  The school is a monument to the zeal of Dean Barry for the cause of Christian education.  The organ installed in the church by Father Barry is the largest and finest instrument of its kind in the world.  Recent improvements have added to the volume and tone of the organ and it is the admiration of the eminent organists who have at one time or another brought out its rich, majestic qualities.  The congregation of the church is the largest religious organization in the city and St. Paul's, through the tireless energy of its pastor, is the center of Catholic worship in Oswego.  Father Richard Shanahan, recentlyappointed, is the curate.

Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, City of Oswego, NY 1906Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church was organized as the Second Methodist Church and held its early services in the Court  House.  In 1881, during the pastorate of Rev. M. D. Kinney, the old church  which was erected in 1848, was torn down and a new edifice built in East Fourth Street, North of Bridge.  Services were held there until November 22,  1900, when the handsome brick building was destroyed by fire.  Far from being disheartened the members of the church held a meeting and plans were made for a more beautiful and enduring house of worship.  That edifice, completed and dedicated a few years ago, is the pride of Trinity's congregation and an ornament to the city.  The church is constructed of Gouverneur marble and brick and cost $45,000.  The stained gass windows are works of art and the large South window, which has attracted the attention of many critics of ecclesiastical architecture, is a reproduction of the famous painting, "The Good Shepherd," one of the art treasures of the Munich gallery.  The pastor of Trinity is Rev. Duane C. Johnson, who has been the incumbent for two years.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, City of Oswego, NY 1906St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church was organized by Rev. F. E. Foltier in 1848.  During that year a frame building was erected at West Sixth and Cayuga Streets.  In 1852 the parochial school, which has recently been replaced by a handsome and commodious brick structure, was opened by the Sisters of St. Joseph.  Under the pastorate of the Rev. Father Hopkins, the spiritual and material growth of the church has been remarkable and the completion of the new parochial school, the most attractive and substantial school building in the city, attests the devoted labors of this zealous priest.  Over 300 pupils are registered at St. Mary's School.  Other improvements are contemplated by Father Hopkins and by far the most impotant of these is the erection of a new church to accomodate the rapidly growing congregation.  Father Hopkins has as his assistant Rev. J. W. Farrar.

     The Congregational Church had its beginnings in a meeting for organization, held in the old Court House, April 1, 1833.  The society began with twelve members.  The financial panic of 1836 crippled the finances of the struggling band of worshipers and they made the last entry on their records on June 3, 1838.  In 1837 the Second Presbyterian Church was formed, but disbanded nineteen years later.  Their edifice was erected and dedicated in 1842 and in it the present Congregational Church Society of Oswego was organized February 20, 1857.  The corner stone of the present splendid brick church was laid in 1857 and in 1858 the structure, which cost $35,000, was completed.  Rev. W. F. Kettle was recently called, from a large parish at Homer, N. Y., to assume charge, the Rev. Charles N. Thorp, who filled the pulpit for eight years, having resigned to accept another pastorate.

The Church of the Evangelists, City of Oswego, NY 1906

The Church of the Evangelists was an offshoot of Christ Church and was organized July 28, 1850.  The present handsome brown stone edifice was erected in 1851 and was consecrated in 1865.  The rector is Rev. Henry S. Sizer, an earnest worker in the ministry and a prominent figure in the religious life of the city.

The West Baptist Church, City of Oswego, NY 1906

   The West Baptist Church was organized in the old City Hall May 3, 1852.  The society sprung from the First Baptist Church and was composed of members of that church residing on the West side.  Services were first held in the court room at the City Hall.  The present place of worship at the corner of West Third and Mohawk Streets was erected in 1867 and cost $70,000.  A handsome new chapel has been added during recent years and the property has an unexcelled location and attractiveness. Rev. Cornelius S. Savage is the pastor and he has made his church an influence in the community.

St. Paul's German Lutheran Church, City of Oswego, NY 1906

     St. Paul's German Lutheran Church was organized in 1857 by Revs. Statelchant and Fisher, two zealous missionaries.  Services were held in what is now the Sullivan building in East First Street until 1859, when the imposing brick structure at the corner of East Sixth and Lawrence Streets was built.  The church has been progressive and great credit is due the beloved pastor, Rev. Reinhold Kessler.

St. Peter's German Catholic Church bad its origin in a nucleus to a mission held at St. Mary's Church in 1856.  In 1859 the Franciscan Fathers of  Syracuse held a retreat at St. Mary's Church, and on September 16, 1860, the St. Boniface Society was organized for the purpose of raising funds for the erection of a church for the German speaking Catholic people.  A lot was purchased at the corner of East Seventh and Albany Streets and a frame structure was erected in 1863  The Franciscan Fathers remained in charge until 1864.  The rector at the present time is Rev. George S. Heisler, a native of Oswego and an able priest.

     The Church of St. John, the Evangelist (Roman Catholic), dates its origin from the year 1869.  A small church was built for temporary use and the present magnificent house of worship was begun in the Spring of 1870.  The parish has over 3,000 members and the property, not including a splendid brick library and gymnasium, is valued at $75,000. Rev. William F. Dwyer, one of the most devoted priests in the diocese, is the pastor and his assistant is Rev. William H. McCormick.

     St. Louis' ( French ) Catholic Church was organized as a separate parish in 1870, the French Catholics up to that time forming a part of the congregation of St. Mary's.  Mead's Hall, at the corner of East Fourth and Bridge Streets, was purchased for $7,000 and a considerable sum was expended in fitting it up for church services.  A convent was erected in connection with the church in charge of the Sisters of St. Ann, and for a number of years a school accommodating 300 pupils was maintained.  The church experienced a remarkable growth during the pastorate of the late Rev. Joseph J. Auger, and the impress of the character of this noble priest, whose death occurred two years ago, was felt by the people of every denomination and leaves an enduring memory. The rector in charge at the present time is Rev. J. W. Chauvin.

     Grace Presbyterian Church Society was formed in 1872 and the first services were held in Grace Church Chapel.  In 1873 the present brick edifice was commenced and appropriately opened in 1874.  The first pastor was Rev. Henry H. Stebbins, a man of strong personality and a bril­liant and scholarly preacher.  Dr. Stebbins afterward became pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church of Rochester, one of the most influential churches of that denomination in the State. Dr. Stebbins was succeeded by Judson Swift, who was followed by the present pastor, David Wills, Jr. The congregation of Grace Church is a body of earnest and faithful Christian workers and their pastor is a broad-minded churchman who has been foremost in every movement for the upbuilding of civic as well as religious life.

St. Matthew's English Lutheran Church, City of Oswego, N.Y. 1906

     St. Matthew's English Lutheran Church was organized with ten members by Rev. Jeremiah Zimmerman, January 18, 1885 ; was incorporated same year.  The society is an outgrowth of St. Paul's German Lutheran Church.  In 1888 the brick and stone structure which ornaments the corner of West Second and Mohawk Streets was built and the congregation has since grown steadily.  The pulpit is now occupied by Rev. A. S. Hardy.

     The Universalist Church dates its beginning from October 2, 1877, when the parish was organized.  The church itself was not organized until October 29, 1882, and the handsome building, located on West Second Street, near the post office, was erected in 1884.  The Rev. and Mrs. Leon P. Jones are in charge at present, also having the Fulton parish under their efficient care.

     The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized and incorporated August 29, 1901, and the church and reading rooms are now located at 172 West Second Street where services are held Sundays at 10.45 A.M. and 8 P.M, Sunday School at 12 M.  Testimonial meetings, Wednesday evenings at 8 P. M.  The reading rooms are open daily from 3 to 5 P. M. Mrs. Ida M. Sherman, First Reader, and Miss Mary E. Henderson, Second Reader.

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