Sketches in the Life of Daniel Sayre

Sketches in the Life of
Daniel Sayre
Cairo, NY

Copy of the original document on file with the Cairo Public Library
The manuscript copy was made in 1966 through the courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Richar W, Killbride, owners at the time, of Sayre House in Cairo
Contributed by the Cairo Public Library and transcribed by Arlene Goodwin

Dan Sayre was appointed a Justice of the peace in 1800 and held that office 21 years.
In 1803 was appointed an __ctant Judge.
In 1804 was elected a member of Assembly.
In 1806 a Judge of the Court of Commons Pleas, in Greene County.

I, Daniel Sayre (Son of Matthew Sayre & whose mothers maiden name was Mehetable Herrick) was born in Southampton on Long Island, May 10th 1765.

I had many serious impressions on my mind while young. Was early instructed in the things of Religion and particularly by my pious grandmother (who was a widow and lived with my father) and improved every opportunity to talk to me and warn me to shun vice and to make it my daily  _____ to attend the secret prayer to God to pardon my sins and have mercy on me.  Whose councels and instructions was never entirely neglected or forgotten. Being early warned against the practice of vice, I ever had an aversion to swearing, gaming and every other open vice, that I had been taught to shun and which I have always been mercifully kept from practicing.

But between the age of 14 and 17 years  I got an attachment to young company, attended with them at their merry Evening Meetings, and with them at some of their Balls.

But the last sickness and death of my grand mother (which was June 5th 1782) had an effect to solemnize my mind. Particularly her pious instructions on her Death Bed and her triumphant Death, was deeply impressed on my mind for some lenth of time, after a while those impressions in a measure wore off and I again began to frequent the meetings of my youthful and vain companions; until early in the year of 1784 I heard from the lips of the Rev. Wm. Fordham the impropriety and danger of spending youthful days in frolicking & other vain amusements which made such an impression on my mind that I never afterwards went into young company for vain amusements.

In the Spring of 1784 my grand father Herrick and uncle Nathaniel Herrick died near to each other at Westhampton—theire death was very affecting to me, and added much to solemnize my mind and make me fee the importance of being prepared to follow them--- Soon after this God was please to pass on his Spirit on the young people of Westhampton and my uncles widow sent for me to come and spend some weeks with her, which opportunity I gladly embraced.

When I arrived at Westhampton I found the young people of my acquaintance all engaged for the salvation of their Lord, and two or three of them Rejoicing in God their  Savior.  I then felt myself to be the most stupid and hardhearted wretch in the world—I then fasted and I prayed and attended all the meetings---(which was nearly every evening in the week)  But still I could not feel as I thought others did, or I must feel to move God to have mercy on me and save me.

After spending about three weeks at Westhampton my father wanted me and sent for me home.  This was a very sore tryal to me indeed, to leave all the meetings and the young people at West Hampton & go back to Southampton where all was thoughtless and vain—was almost to much for me to endure.  But as my father had sent for me I dare not refuse to comply with his request   I went home on Monday--  But I went with a determination not see any of my young companions in Southampton whom I supposed were all thoughtless and vain as ever—When I got to my fathers house I could get alone with my Bible and read and pray over it—and had conversation with one or two old Christians but all appeared to me Dead and Stupid to the ones I had left at Westhampton—I mourned that I had no Religious meetings I could attend ---I heard there was to be a lecture preached about 2 miles from my fathers—I first determined I would not attend it lest I should see some of the old companions and I felt as though I could not talk with them or know how to conduct myself towards them.

But just before the time to go to the meeting I was reading the 16th chapter of Mark and when I cam to the last Verse the words were so powerful.  I dare not stay at home.

I went to the meeting which was on Wednesday and got behind the door spoke to no one and there stayed behind the door until the meeting was out—after the young people had left the house a good old man came to me and asked me to walk out with him, I did & while talking with him, at a small distance stood several of my young companions looking at us, But said nothing to me or I to them—my appearance through the Blessing of God caused them to think about their souls  ____ and before the week was out, two of them came to see me to inquire what they must do to be saved.

The Sabbath came, I went to meeting got in a back seat in the gallery, and spoke to none of the young people. But we the ones that had been to see me before - and in 2 or 3 weeks, God was pleased to pour out his spirit on the young people in Southampton and I had company such as I wanted.  But all this while I found myself no better by all my Reading and praying and attending meetings, and talking with Christians.  But appeared to myself worse and worse until I was brought to give all up and all hopes of doing any thing to make myself better, and to Cry Save Lord or I must perish   Divine light then Beamed into my soul; I could then see I had  heretofore been unwilling to submit to God on his own terms and could then Rejoice in a Sovereign God, and sovereign and mercy to sinners, I could then see and Rejoice in the Displays of Divine Wisdom, Power and Goodness in the works of Nature all around me—and abhor myself and all my services before God – and rest alone on Sovereign Mercy through the Lord Jesus Christ

The Bible was then a new Book to me  I could then Read and understand what was dark &  mysterious to me before and took great delight in it and in prayer to God.

But dark clouds soon intervened my mind became darkened & my heart was still hard I could not pour out my soul to God in prayer or I had done and at times was shut up that I could scarsely pray at all, and hardly dare to indulge any hope that my heart was changed.

This I lived betwixt hope & fear for about one year, I then on the 3rd day of July 1785 with some others made publick profession of my faith and was received into the church in Southampton  I afterwards enjoyed some happy seasons, But for the greater part of the time was ready to conclude that a heart so bad as mine could not have been renewed by Divine Grace   2 or 3 years after this I became particularly acquainted with Joyce Hunting a pious sister in the same church, with whom I married June 25th 1789.  In the summer of 1792 I was elected and (after much reflection and prayer, accepted though young) the office of Ruleing Elder in that church and was publickly set apart to that office.

In April 1794 I removed with my family to the (now) Town of Cairo.

There was than no Presbyterian Church in the place nor a profession of Religion in that or congregational connection for many miles around (except myself & wife) I first attended meetings on the Sabbath at a place called were with a few Baptist Brethren—they soon removed their meeting to a greater distance.

I then with a few others that were not professors kept up the meeting on the Sabbath in the same place for one or two years, after this the Rev. Herman Dagget came to visit me & was persuaded to engage for six months to preach and teach school – he generally preached in the School house or barn in the place called Shinglekill – after Mr. Dagget  left the Rev. Daniel March preached half the time in the  ____ five or six months – after Mr. March left us we _______a long time destitute of preaching____________  called on Rev. Wm. H____   now and then preaching a sermon.  At five O Clock on the Sabbath – our meetings were regularly attended every Sabbath by a few some other professors had moved into the place at this time only, But one male person (Wm. Halsey)  he always declined leading in prayer but was a good singer and helped much to keep up our meetings – we had missionaries frequently call but very seldom to stay over the Sabbath.

Early in the year of 1799 a Wm. Hoyt removed form Connecticut to this place that had a letter from a Congregational Church – We then called on the Rev. Mr. Hotchkin & the Rev. Mr. Townsend to organize a Church which was done by Mr. Hotchkin May 22 1799 consisting of three males and five females and I was chosen a Deacon.  Soon after this the Lord was pleased to visit us with a shower of Divine Grace and about ten were added to the little church.

Soon after we built the meeting house in Acra and sought for a minister and were now and then supplied for a few Sabbaths together and in one or two instances form some months together; our Meetings were still constantly attended on the Sabbath, we had no preaching.  In the Fall of 1804 sold our meeting house in Acra to the Baptist Society and commenced Building our house in Cairo which was inclosed in the summer of 1805 and finished the following year or year after.

I had a then lived with my wife in the greatest happiness for more than Sixteen years.

But on the 19th of December 1805, a merciful God took her to himself leaving me alone with eight motherless children. She died in full ___ of faith calling upon her soul and all within her to bless her God and saviour I received great ___ at the time from the 10th verse of the 46 Psalm even the whole Psalm after reading it was powerfulling ___ to me.

In this widowed state I lived until a most wonderful providence directed me to a Miss Cynthia Huntington of Hartford (Connecticut) to whom I was married September 7th 1808 who proved a faithful companion to me and a Real mother to my children.

On the night of the 28th of January (a dreadfull to relate) my house and four of my children was consumed by fire, and I with, my remaining wife and children, Barely escaped the flames at this time I had such an overwhelming sense of the Immediate had of God in it – That I was struck dumb and could not open my lips in a murmur or complaint—

Oh! How vain did this world and all its enjoyments then appear and continued so to appear for some time after, until the laps of time wore off those first impressions in a great measure.  My Beloved wife left the house almost naked and caught a Cold together with the fright, her delicate situation that brought on sickness & a weakness that continued until her death which was on the 26th of October 1817.

Who I trust made a happy exchange of worlds. But bodily distress prevented her from speaking in her last moments.  I was again left alone and thought I could say that it was good for me to be affiliated. I then broke up house keeping and hired my board but could not enjoy myself in that way and I thought I could see and feel the force of the Divine word in the case of our first ______  (it is not good for man that he be alone)  and on the 27th of April 1818 I was married to Deborah Kneeland with whom  I lived happily until she was removed by death on the 23d of September 1820.  also died in faith and who is gone to receive rewards, of the just  after this I became acquainted with the  Widow Diadomia Willis to whom I was married February 20th 1821

But return to the Church – after building the meeting house in the Village of Cairo our meetings were kept up upon the Sabbath but had no steady preaching until December 1808  Mr. Abner Benedickt was employed as a candidate and preached in the place twelve months or more

After Mr. Calvin Bushnel & others was employed for several Sabbaths together – about this time there was considerable additions to the Church   In 1811 the Church joined themselves to Columbia Presbytery & Rev. Richard Williams was installed their pastor who continued with them about three years, after which Rev. Daniel Parker was employed to preach on the Sabbath about twelve months. 

Daniel Sayre

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