Jerusalem Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., NY - NYGenWeb, part of the USGenWeb Project


"Manual of the Churches of Seneca County with sketches of their pastors, 1895-96", compiled and published by the Courier Printing Co., Seneca Falls, NY 1896.
Note: Please forgive the quality of the picture. Graphics aren't my strength and I am working on improving this scan.

      One of the evidences of the tendency of population from rural neighborhoods to business centers in villages and cities, is found in the number (of churches locked up or disused in the rural districts of the State. There are two such cases in the town of Fayette, and a third a little beyond the north border of the town. Many of the early settlers of the town of Fayette were Pennsylvania Germans, who removed there in the early part of this century. In the interior of the town, a little West of the center, may be found a large, well-constructed brick church edifice, known as "Jerusalem church", which has not for a number of years past, been used to any extent, for church purposes, by either of the religious denominations which constructed it, and formerly held stated religious services therein.
      As early as August 3, 1811, only about two years after the organization of the first church in the town of Fayette, ( Christ church at Bearytown) the German residents of the central and western parts of Fayette, of the German Reformed and Lutheran denominations, organized a religious society, under the name of the ''Trustees of Zion's Church", naming in the certificate of organization (certified by Jacob Alleman as chairman of the charter meeting) as its first board of trustees: Jacob Heck, Philip Pratz, John Emerick, and Adam Hofstetter, equally divided between the two denominations named. It is to be regretted that the early church records cannot be found, and the traditions of aged people must be chiefly relied upon for information. The first church edifice was a log structure, comfortably sided up, and arranged within, with seats of those primitive days. This building of Zion's church was destroyed by fire Feb. 7, 1835. The corner stone for a new church (it is still standing) was laid May 12, 1836, and was dedicated as "Jerusalem Church," Nov.13, 1836. The names of the first clergymen who officiated in the old log church, (and prior to its erection, for a time, in dwelling houses or barns in the vicinity) were Rev. Anthony Houtz and Rev. Lot Merkel. For over fifty years, services were regularly held in the old church and its successor, on alternate Sabbaths or at longer intervals by the Reformed and Lutheran pastors of Bearytown congregations. During the past twenty years, services have not been regularly held therein, for any considerable times -by either of these religious denominations. Doubtless the proximity of the church to Bearytown and Waterloo, and to the Presbyterian church of West Fayette and the Protestant Episcopal church at Willowdale, led greatly, with the other causes assigned, to its disuse for regular church services. A number of years ago, the church needing repairs, a committee of citizens of the neighborhood, of whom the late Hon. William Hogan, was an active worker, raised a considerable sum of money, and caused needed repairs to be made. A well attended Sabbath school, was for a number of years, maintained in the church, by the late Elias Romig of Waterloo, and others, even after regular Sunday preaching services were discontinued. During the past two or three years, occasional Sunday services have been held in the church, under the auspices of Grace Protestant Episcopal church of Willowdale, on Seneca lake. The
church cemetery, adjoining the church. has been maintained, and is still occasionally used for burials, by old families of the neighborhood.
     Among the families ascertained to have been connected with this congregation in its early history (in addition to those who took part in the organization mentioned in 1811) were those of John Markell, George Neass, Adam Schneck, William Gamber, Abram Youngs, Daniel Saeger, Samuel Romig, Joseph H. Sigfreid, Christian Keim, Jacob Flickinger, Henry Shankwiler, Jacob Acker, John Arisberger, Philip Peters, Frederick and Benjamin Kuney, and Abram and Conrad Manges. It is a noteworthy fact,that the first organization of the Mormon church,was that of Joseph Smith, made April 6, 1830, at the house of Peter Whitmer, Sr., about 1 1-2 miles northwest from Jerusalem church. The Whitmer family were Pennsylvania Germans, and prior to their defection to Mormonism, attended church services at the old Zion's church, the predecessor of the Jerusalem church.


Submitted by Cindy Kimes

Old Fayette Church relic of Pioneer Days.
Called Jerusalem Church because of location on commanding hill.
Waterloo, NY January 5, 1930
      The old Jerusalem Reformed and Lutheran Church in the town of Fayette, four miles south of Waterloo, is one of the landmarks of Seneca County. It stands on a commanding eminence which overlooks many square miles of territory, a silent reminder of the history of a century past.
     The Germans who emigrated from Pennsylvania to Seneca County and settled in the town of Fayette at the beginning of the 19th century were of the Reformed and Lutheran faith. They brought with them their love of religious liberty and plans for establishing the new faith. Near the center of the town of Fayette on a high elevation, such as characterizes Jerusalem in Palestine, these early settlers decided to build a church.
     The first Board of Trustees consisted of Jacob Heck, Philip Pratz, John Emerick and Adam Hostetter. Two of them were from each denomination. The two congregations were organized August 3, 1811.
     The first church was built of logs and was finished and furnished in a simple way that was in harmony with the simple living and high thinking of those primitive days.
     This building was destroyed by fire on February 7, 1835. There was no insurance on it and the loss was complete. With undaunted courage, the two congregations faced this disaster and at once decided to rebuild the church which was as much a part of their lives as their homes. The corner stone of the present building was laid May 12, 1836, and the work was carried forward as rapidly that they were able to dedicate the new church on November 13 of that year. The present building has therefore stood for more than 87 years.
     For many years, the work of the two congregations was carried forward with varying degrees of interest and success. Little by little, as the pioneers died, interest and activity waned, until the work came to a standstill and the congregation disbanded. For many years, Jerusalem Church was served by the pastors of the Fayette Reformed and Lutheran Churches of Fayette village. The Reverend C. M. Boughton, then pastor of the Tyre Reformed Church, preached for sometime at Jerusalem. He was located at Waterloo at the time.
     In 1915, The Reverend D. W. Kerr, then pastor of the Federated Reformed and Lutheran Churches at Fayette, felt that the anniversary of this old landmark ought to be celebrated annually and its history kept alive in the minds of people of the community. He arranged for an open air service on a Sunday afternoon early in August. The weather was rather unfavorable, but a fair sized audience gathered and a simple and impressive service was held. At this anniversary service, gifts were offered for use in remolding and repairing the building and putting it into shape for further usefulness as a church for the benefit of the community, but the money has been put to no use so far.
     1950 - Jerusalem Church is a subject of the past. One by one the bricks fell, lots of them carted away by some unknown people till at the present time, it would be difficult to make a person, unfamiliar with the place, ever believe that a church once stood there. The old cemetery at the east of the church is still intact, altho much overgrown with wild roses, bushes, etc. A few very nice stones are still intact. The large one at the West side being the resting place of CHRISTIAN KIME, who came to Fayette in the year 1812. He was one of a Society known as The Trustees of Zion's Church, composed of German Reformed and Lutheran denominations.

Back to the top.
Back to Church and Bible Records Index
Back to Seneca Co.
© 1999 Diane Lerch Kurtz