Note: This document, written by Mildred Ross, gives the History of the Hague Wesleyan church up to 1974. Barb Trainor, church Historian, is now working on writing up a paper for the history of HWC, 1974-present. Also, the stars(*) and degree signs(°), are footnote markings to give more up to date information on a certain subject.
The following entitled, "The History of the Hague Wesleyan Methodist Church of Hague, New York," was researched and written by Mildred Belle Ross in 1974. The following facts are based on the earliest church minutes and clerk1s records of various meetings held over the years in addition to first-hand information revealed by my father Wilford Cameron Ross, born October 11, 1890, and his mother and grandmothers' ancestors who were residents and property owners in Hague dating back to 1855. Special mention should also be made for any and all information made possible by out cousins Florence Balcom Smith(a daughter of Edna Rising Balcom) and William MacKenzie Lewis(the grandson of Edward Ross). I am deeply grateful to Vila Anderson Fitzgerald, who is out present town historian*, for the privilege of sharing common knowledge and many others not mentioned at this time. My apologies for and unknown omissions.
Now with the completion of a remodeled interior(including paneling, ceiling tile, lights, and carpeting) with an iron rail° and bulletin board on the exterior of the church. I have asked my nephew, Wilford Charles Hutchinson, to read my findings to each of you at this dedication ceremony held on Sunday, November 3, 1974 at 3:00pm.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Hague, New York was organized in May, 1868 under the pastoral care of I.G. Hull who was succeeded in the spring of 1869 by Elder S.H. Foster.
The first role of membership consisted of twenty five members--two of which withdrew and two went to the Methodist Episcopal Church leaving twenty-one members on June 30, 1871. Pastor J. Bartman listed nine members and upon his withdrawal left ten members. Pastor Bartman withdrew from the church in 1874.
In 1872, E.E. Curtis was the pastor serving until 1873 when Reverend Richard DeLarm became the pastor. At this time Emma Woodcock and two daughters became members having recently moved here upon the sudden death of their husband Israel Woodcock and the father of Belle and Elsie.
Hiram Sexton was the clerk June 18, 1874. Samuel H. Miller became class leader in the West Hague School House and the stewards were Orlin Hayes, Henry Doolittle, Hallis Spaulding, Samuel Ackerman and Philo Foote.
In the South School House Silas Ackerman was classleader and Amos L. Tuttle was church clerk in 1874.
On September 7, 1874 a meeting was held at Rev. R. DeLarm1s residence with Amos L. Tuttle Clerk reporting the following members appointed to the Judiciary Committee: Norman Wright, Hallis Spaulding, George Foote, Orlin Hayes, Henry Doolittle, Esther Balcom, Addie Ackerman, Anne Starks, Berintha Ellethorpe and Lorraine Rand.
On April 17, 1875 a meeting was called at the Union Church. Samuel H. Miller was appointed church clerk and Norman Wright classleader. In the West Hague School District, Eugene H. Doolittle was named classleader. In the South School District, Hollis Spaulding became classleader. Also, Edmund J. Ackerman, Levi Newton and Leamber Sheldon were named stewards. Esther Balcom(great aunt of Wilford Ross) and Betsy Ackerman were named stewardess' ministers.
On April 17, 1877 a meeting was called at the West Hague School House for the purpose of incorporating themselves. The trustees elected were Orlin S. Hayes, Eugene H. Doolittle and Edmund J. Ackerman. At this time a certificate of corporation was drawn up. The church was to be called, 3The First Wesleyan Church of Hague, Warren County, New York.2 The certificate was signed and sealed by Lewis Burgess, Justice of Peace. The document was recorded on May 1, 1877 by the county clerk.
On April 26, 1879 George Bruce was given a license to preach for one year, also Danny Fish was given a license to preach for the same time period of one year. The privilege was renewed in 1880 for a second year.
From the diary of Alfred Balcom and the town historian Vila Fitzgerald1s records states that on Thursday, August 21, 1879 death claimed Vila, wife of Dyer Ackerman, on the previous evening after a long illness and on Friday, August 22, 1879 Mr. Balcom attended her funeral at the house. Rev. John West delivered the sermon and was assisted by Rev. Smith and Rev. Wright.
Reverend Gerald Frank Wright became pastor in 1879 and remained until June, 1883 when Rev. Quay served as pastor until 1886. Rev. Wright helped with the construction of the parsonage and was the first person to live in it following its completion. The parsonage was built about three years before the church. In 1886 Rev. Wright returned with his family and remained until 1890.
The Wesleyan church was built in 1879. Henry Doolittle furnished the timbers. Logs were gotten out of the woods, hauled to Nathan Yaw1s sawmill and made into flooring, clapboards and sheating material. All timbers were hand hewn. The shingles were sawed at the Joseph Richmond Mill which was located on the brookside near the old town sheds. The Wesleyan Church was built by donated labor under the supervision of Edward Davis, who was a carpenter by trade. There was a building committee of five.
The original pews obtained by all contributing the amount of twenty five dollars or over. Upon payment of this amount, an individual was entitled to one pew on one side of the church building. The center pews and all side pews not thus sold were to be free to all. Among those claiming ownership of pews were the family names of Edmund J. Ackerman, Samuel Ackerman, Curtis Balcom, Lewis Burgess, Henry Doolittle, Frank Elethorpe, Philo Foote, Orlin Hayes, Stephen Holman, Samuel H. Miller, Levi Newton, Hiram Rand, Joseph Richmond, Bufus Rising, Hollis Spaulding, Henry Starks, Hiram Sexton, and others who came regularly to the church.
The church bell was made possible through the efforts of Emma Ross and Edna Rising who raised enough money to purchase it from the foundry in Troy, New York. The cost of the bell was between twenty five and fifty dollars.
The first windows were of ordinary glass covered with colored paper and the names of donors across the bottom of each. Such names as Lewis Burgess, Orlin S. Hayes, Levi Newton, Hiram Rand, E.S. Ross, and Henry Starks were among the donors. Later, new stained glass windows were purchased and still remain in evidence.
In 1890 Rev. Lewis Partridge became pastor and remained several years. In 1890 Rev. N.E. Jenkins was here and later Rev. Wager became pastor. He was the first to own a buggy powered car steered with a stick.
From 1905 through 1908 Rev. Carpenter was pastor. Rev. Wilson served as pastor between the years of 1908 and 1913. Rev. Dow took charge of the ministry for the church in 1914.
Later pastors have been Rev. A.J. Allen, Rev. Florence Baxter, Rev. Frank Taylor, Rev. Barse, Rev. Clarance Murray, Rev. Floyd Tyler, Rev. Martin Ayers, Rev. Gerald Hewitt, Rev. Bernard Fortune, Rev. Ralph Bramble(on an interim one-year basis), and out current pastor, Rev. Edward Elliott.
During Rev. Florence Baxter1s pastorate, the church was moved back from Route 8 to its present position and location. Supervision of this work was done by Edward S. Ackerman and Wilford C. Ross. It was a difficult undertaking as the new road bed had been raised two feet and the building was very large and temperamental to manage, to say the least.
During Rev. Tyler1s stay, the church annex was added. Byron Monroe, Elwin Monroe, and Byron Armstrong played key roles in constructing this most welcome, and needed, addition to the main church building. The annex contains the church1s Sunday School rooms. The logs for the annex were donated by Irene Kelly.
During the time period that Rev. Fortune spent here in Hague, the vestibule was added, among other things. The fund for the vestibule was iniated by Stella Barton. Our present organ was purchased while Rev. Fortune pastored in Hague.
Now Rev. Elliot has seen the interior of the church redone with the addition of new pews and carpeting added by the donated labor of members and the church1s many friends. Kenneth Smith Jr., Norman Strum, Elmer Streeter, James McKee, Irving Bailey, Rev. Floyd Tyler, and Gordon Hayes put a great deal of time and labor into this task.
These and many unnamed changes have taken place due to the generosity of Dr. Giffin, who left a substantial sum of money to the church upon his death, and Mrs. Alta Waters, in addition to the many friends and members of the church.
This writing would not be complete without mention of the many memorials made possible by the Bartlett family, the Middletons, the Hayes family, the Ross family, the Gerald Hutchinson family, Doris Sexton, Mrs. Marshall Kelly, the Streeter family, the Waters family and many others. Among these gifts have been doors, the crass organ, Bibles, offering plates and the electrical wiring-- the funds for which were supplied by Miss Lela Foote. A new bulletin board, to be completed upon arrival, and the iron railing° being dedicated today are also included in this list. The railing was made possible by the monetary and physical contributions of Wilford C. Ross, Mildred Ross, the family of Gerald Hutchinson, Florence Smith, Rev. Edward Elliott, and Gordon Hayes. This railing is being given and dedicated in loving memory of the lifetime of service to the Wesleyan Sunday School and church by Julia B. Ross, wife of Wilford C. Ross, who went to the Lord in July, 1971.
In conclusion, I can say that the Lord has been truly with us over the years and His goodness has been shown in many ways, Let us remember Proverbs 10:22: "The Lord1s blessing is our greatest wealth. All our work adds nothing to it."
The ancestors, forefathers, and early members of this church had to undergo tremendous hardships in establishing the Hague Wesleyan Church. We can only barely understand, at best, what these people had to put up with and endure. The individuals who founded, developed, and built this church were, in my opinion, a remarkable group of people. I think that they would be very gratified to see the progress this church has made physically, numerically, and spiritually since its inception. The least we can do is to honor their memory in the manner currently being undertaken and continually remember their contribution and sacrifice for the glory of God and His son Jesus Christ.
With these ideas in mind, each of us should renew our relationship with Christ and recall that nothing is hopeless or impossible when Christ is in it. Thank you for your participation in this most magnificent event.
* Clifton West is now our town historian and has been for many years.
° The iron railing was replaced in the early '90s with a wooden railing.
Hague Wesleyan's Email addresses
Pastor Rusty Bissell: SABissell@aol.com
Page Editor Peter Hutchinson: PHutchi745@aol.com