Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Old Stone Church in Oriskany Falls

Copied from The Clinton Courier Jan. 18, 1978


By H. Paul Draheim

34th in a Series-


"The church tower reaches skyward

Four square to the winds that blow,

With sturdy independence

And, a Holy Place below."

These lines by Fraser Mann, appropriately describe the stately spire of the Old Stone Church in Oriskany Falls, erected in 1834 by the Congregational Society.

The Old Stone Church has had a very large and influential place in the life of Oriskany Falls during the 144 years. The tall, sky-pointing church steeple has inspired and uplifted the souls of hundreds who were home folk in the community.

It stands as a witness faithful. It speaks no words, but its silent but daily suggestion that causes all folks, young and old, to look upward, has a tremendous power.

Through the assistance of Mrs. Hazel Farquhar, church

clerk, the records were examined some years ago by this writer. These records tell the story of the old church.

Samuel Ferguson, whose home was the farm later owned by Guy Morrow, was one of the first members of the Old Stone Church. He was one of the men who assisted in drawing the stone for its erection.

Prior to the organization of the society in Oriskany Falls, Ferguson and his daughters Mrs. Eliza Osborne and Mrs. Abigail Carter, attended the church in Sangerfield Center.

For a number of years Ferguson served as chorister. His younger daughter, Mrs. Carter, was one of the early members and retained that membership until her death in 1903. Her children, Mrs. Elizabeth Kimberley and Chauncey Carter were trained early in the Sunday School, and among their teachers were Mrs. Sheldon Barker and Mrs. Amos Allen.

The church society was founded on January 31,1833—145 years ago. Almost immediately the small congregation made plans for the erection of an edifice that would stand for many years. Fashioned from stone taken from nearby quarries in an era when most of the work was done by hand, the church is one of the oldest and best preserved in Central New York. It is only nine miles from Clinton. Although the construction work was started in 1833 and the edifice was enclosed by 1834, it was not until 1845 that the structure actually was completed. No sand was used in mixing mortar to hold the stone together. Limestone was crushed and mixed with cement and wood ashes. The substance when it hardened proved as strong as the rock itself and through the years the building has stood unharmed by the elements.

Only two changes have been made in the church in its long history. Twenty memorial windows were installed about 75 years ago by descendants of the charter members. At a somewhat later period it became necessary (in 1886) to add a new steeple after a windstorm carried away a part of the original one. Except in these two respects the church was unchanged from 1845 to 1952.

One of the memorial windows was placed in honor of the Barker Family. The records show that at one time this family had 18 members on the rolls and furnished all the music. Thirteen of the

Barker Family were members of the choir and the 14th was organist. The original pews each had a door of its own. These since have been removed.

The memorial windows are to Philo and Sally Snow Holmes, Daniel and Almira King, Daniel W. and Abigail H. Barker, Harold Cross Langley, Ellen Oliver Juhl and Clara Juhl, the Brainard family, Shelton Stoors Barker, Olive Phelps Barker, Asenath Thompson, Larens H. Barker, Stephen R. and Lydia King Howe. Also, Everett E. and Melissa T. Allen; Abigail Ferguson Carter, Noah and Jane Ferguson Wells, Didelia A. Rice, Courtlandt and Abigail J. Barker, James and Phlena Allen, Sidney and Julia Putnam and Amos and

Lucinda Allen.

One immediately observes that the names of Daniel and Almira King are placed that you must read them from. the outside of the church, rather than from the inside.

One of the pews, in the back part of the church, carries the words "Del Barker, 1865" which probably was carved by a youngster of that family during one of the long Sunday sermons.. The Barkers, indently, came to Oriskany Falls from Augusta Center.

The church marked its centennial in 1933 when the Rev. William Davies was pastor. Participants of the program included Mrs. Fred Clarke, Mrs. Ethel King, Mrs. A.D. Grannis, the Rev. A.W. Allen, Syracuse; the Rev. E. C. Wattner, Fulton; Mrs. R. K. Miner, Miss Mary Nash, Miss Grace Cunningham and the Rev. E. D. Marriam, Ontario.

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