Early History of Van Buren Churches


Town of Van Buren, New York

Submitted by Kathy Crowell

Source:  Onondaga's Centennial by Dwight H. Bruce (ed.).  Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. I, pp. 735-737.

"The first Baptist church in the old town of Camillus was established in 1813 at Camillus, and the second Baptist church was organized around the corner on lot 39 in 1815.  The old school house at the corners served for a meeting place for years, and meetings were also held in private dwellings.  The growth of the village of Canton (Memphis) brought to the congregation an increase of members, and occasional meetings were held there.  The first meeting held at Canton was in the village school house on February 25, 1826, and the society was organized March 30, 1830.  The first trustees were Charles H. Toll, Chester Marshall, and Isaac Hill.  After the organization meetings were held for a time alternately at Canton and Warners, and in the winter of 1833-4 a church was erected at Canton.  people in the eastern part of this town aided in organizing a congregation at Belle Isle in 1830, although it was outside of the limits of the town.  In 1844 it joined with the society at Camillus.  The Baptist society at Baldwinsville dates its connection with the town of Van Buren from 1840.  It had been organized since about 1818 in the town of Lysander, but was subsequently removed to Canton street, and in January 1841, changed its name to the 'First Baptist Society of Lysander and Van Buren.'  In 1865 a lot was purchased on Grove street and a brick parsonage built, which was followed in 1871 by the purchase of the present site and the building of a new church.

Presbyterianism has never had a society of its own in this town, but one was formed in Baldwinsville in about 1813, and two years later it was incorporated as the 'Lysander and Camillus First Religious Society.'  After a weak existence of about ten years it was reincorporated in October, 1826, at the school house in Baldwinsville.  Two of the trustees, Gabriel Tappen and John Williams, were on the south side of the river.  In 1840 another organization was effected, and Van Buren names are prominent in the work.  The same is true of the society organized in 1817 at Camillus village.  Presbyterians were numerous among the organizers of the Union Society at Warners in 1831.  About 1841 they seceded and held separate meetings, and apparently made a formal organization as a Congregational society.  In 1845 a Presbyterian society was organized at Amboy, and those Presbyterians at Warners went to it in a body.

The small denomination of the Christian connection followed the Baptists with an organization in this town in December, 1818.  Thirty-five names were signed to an agreement in that connection.  In January 26, 1829, the 'Congregation of People called Christians' met in the Ionia school house and elected as trustees Henry McDowell, jr., Solomon Sutherland, Joel Foster, David Corkins, Robert Rogers, and John Ford.  The incorporation papers were filed April 3, and a deed was passed for land on lot 37 south of Ionia.  There the first church edifice in the town was built.  After a long period of rather weak existence a reorganization was effected in 1854, and subsequently the old church was abandoned and the present one built at Memphis in 1868.

A Congregational society was in existence for a time at Ionia in early years, but died out.  A meeting was held in the Ionia school house May 19, 1827, where the 'Central Congregational Society of Camilus' was formed.  The trustees chosen were Cyrus Ladd, James Rogers, and Jonathan Paddock.  Anther society that was Congregational in form was the Union Society, organized at the brick school house in Warners, January 18, 1831, Methodists, Universalists and Presbyterians uniting for the purpose.  A church was at once built, and about 1841 the Presbyterian element seceded and organized 'The First Congregational Society of the Town of Van Buren' on May 10, 1841.  The trustees elected were Enos Peck, James Van Alstyne, and Henry L. Warner.  This society probably never had an active existence.  The old Union society continued until 1846, when it was absorbed by the Methodists.

The early circuit preaches of Methodist doctrine held meetings throughout the towns of Camillus, Lysander and Marcellus.  The Methodists were prominent in organizing the Union society mentioned, and about 1830 they began to organized at Warners and formed a class.  The place probably became a permanent station in 1838, when William C. Mason was reported as the local preacher.  In 1846 the Union society was reorganized in the Methodist faith, and in March Jacob Steves, Lawrence Lamerson, Aaron Quinby, Francis R. Nichols, and Ezra Nichols were chosen trustees.  In 1869 the old church was rebuilt to its present form.  A Methodist Protestant church was organized at Van Buren Corners in 1842, but it became weak and dissolved.

About 1849 the Catholic, who had become numerous in Baldwinsville, began to hold services at the corner of Water and Canton streets, pastors coming from Syracuse.  In 1851 a society was organized, land was purchased and a church erected.  In 1867 a permanent pastor was placed over the church, and it has since been a prosperous parish."

Submitted 21 June 1998