By Mrs. N. L. Bird (Nancy Niles, alias Mrs. Bird)
1902 Advertiser Book Press, Elmira, N.Y.
In November, 1885, a committee of the four churches in Smithfield met to arrange for a union Christmas entertainment for the four Sunday schools, to be held in the Baptist church on Christmas eve. They unanimously voted to ask Mrs. N.L. Bird to write a history of the Sunday school work of Smithfield, from its beginning in 1814, to be read that evening. The paper was well received and a vote passed that it be printed. The money was not raised for expenses, hence not printed. In the fall of 1898 she was asked to re-read the paper at a union service on Sabbath evening. A request was made for its publication. She suggested a re-writing of the paper, with additional information of the work up to the close of the century. Her suggestion prevailed and this book is the result. Great pains has been taken that it should be correct in statement and impartial in judgment.
That it has its faults, the author would not deny. The desire and prayer has been to so write, that readers in the future, especially the children and youth, should see the glorious results of the faithful study of the Bible, and be influenced for good thereby. To all who have so kindly assisted her by furnishing information, thanks are returned. Rev. S. A. Califf and Miss Nancy Corss have been of great service.
That the book may lead some souls to appreciate divine truth will ever be the prayer of
INTRODUCTION BY MRS. CORA RIGGS.
Thinking that Mrs. Bird’s connection with Sunday school work merits more than the brief notice she has given it, some of her friends ask that the following be given a place in this history.
Mrs. N. L. Bird has been a member of the Smithfield Baptist Sunday school, when at home, since its organization in 1845. She was a successful teacher many years before she became its superintendent in 1885, which office she filled faithfully and efficiently for six years. Since then she has given us such service as her health and circumstances permitted. Sometimes she has been engaged as a regular teacher, often has acted as a substitute. She has given efficient help in committee work of various kinds.
No other proof is needed of her interest in Sunday school work than the labor she has bestowed on this history, which, we hope, may prove a help and inspiration to future workers, long after we of this generation shall have been called to higher service. Forwarded by vote of the school.
Mrs. Cora L. Riggs, Supt.
PORTION OF THE PAPER AS READ AT THE CHRISTMAS ENTERTAINMENT,
DECEMBER 24, 1885
In preparing this paper, two thoughts have been constantly in mind—First, to get the facts and condense them within reasonable limits; and, second, to present them in an entertaining manner, knowing that Sunday school boys and girls do not like to be fed on dry food, especially on Christmas eve. To do the first has been difficult, and to accomplish the latter, I fear beyond the ability of the writer. Because of lack of records, we have referred to the memory of our oldest inhabitants for information. We are under especial obligation and return our thanks to Mrs. Ruth Perkins, Mrs. Bathsheba Tracy, Mrs. Susan Scott Adams, Mr. Harry Pierce and to records preserved by Albert Tracy and George Beach.
We give to the children a riddle or conundrum to solve; if you cannot understand it, ask your mothers at home: How can a Sunday school be taught on Saturday afternoon?
The earliest public instruction of children in the scriptures in Smithfield, of which we get any account, was in 1814. In that year Deacon Benjamin Hale lived on the farm where Mr. Shill now lives. There being no school house near, his daughter, Lydia, taught a school in her father’s barn, and every Saturday afternoon Rev. John Bascom, pastor of the Congregational church, came to the school and taught the children the catechism, and talked to them of Jesus. It was called a catechism school, and continued two or three summers. Mrs. Ruth Perkins, Samuel’s mother, is the only person now living who attended that school.
Children, I wish you to remember Jesus was born in a stable, and the first public religious instruction given to children in Smithfield was in a barn and on Saturday afternoon.
Rev. Bascom’s son, John, became afterward a noted preacher and author in the west, then president of the University of Wisconsin, and at present writing (1900) is professor of economics in Williams College, Mass.
Mrs. Perkins says, after that school closed, our mothers took great pains with us, calling us together on Sunday afternoons and teaching us the catechism and Bible verses.
BAPTIST CHURCH, 1822
In 1822 a Bible class was formed in the Baptist church, Deacon Samuel Wood, leader. The principal exercise was committing and reciting Bible verses.
A prize of a book was offered to the scholar who would learn and repeat 800 Bible verses first, no time specified. Harry Pierce was the boy who drew the prize, and is our authority for this statement. We call him Uncle Harry Pierce now, and wish he would tell us how long it took him to learn those verses. This school continued only one summer.
In 1825 Jerusha Rice was hired to teach a day school for one year, in a school house standing upon the corner now occupied by Clayton Gerould. The children of John Scott, Caleb and Ira Adams, Ziba Gerould and a few others constituted that school. On Sunday at four P.M., she taught a Sunday school. Her method was to have the children read a chapter in the Bible in rotation, and then she would ask questions and teach them, going from seat to seat, all in one class. Mrs. Clement Paine, of Athens, kindly furnished all the books needed, and when a child had committed to memory a certain number of Bible verses, she gave a book to them, and when they could recite 1,000 verses of scripture they received a Bible.
Susan Scott, then ten and one-half years old, learned and recited 1,127 verses and received fourteen books and a Bible. We know her now as Mrs. Susan Adams, mother of L.T. Adams, and she is the only person now living who attended that school.
As Miss Rice was not a member of the church, or even a professed Christian, she never offered prayer in the school, but soon Mr. John Scott, a member of the Baptist church attended it regularly, led in singing and offered prayer. They were also greatly assisted by a young man who came from Athens for that purpose, but whose name cannot now be ascertained.
The school continued one summer and a few weeks the next, as when Miss Rice’s day school closed she left the place, and the Sunday school closed.
The following history of Sunday school work in the Methodist Episcopal church in Smithfield is as furnished to me in 1885 by Mr. George T. Beach, his uncle Lewis Beach, Danvers Bourne, and Charles B. Riggs. Later, of the Methodist Episcopal school in the village by Albert E. Scott and J.T. Beach. The first Methodist Episcopal Sunday school in Smithfield was held in 1825 in what was then called the Crowell district, in a school house which stood on the hill between the present residences of Addison Phelps and Joseph Campbell. Organized by the preacher in charge, Mr. Piersoll. School opened by Sophronia Rice, in absence of preacher. Had no superintendent. In 1826 Truman M. Beach was elected superintendent. He was not a member of any church. School closed during the winter. Number of scholars limited only by the size of the house, consisting of all classes and creeds, coming long distances, from Springfield and Ridgbury, to take part in the free discussion of Bible truths and doctrines; persons whose names and arguments are still fresh in the memory of some now living. School continued during the summers of 1827 and 1828, when the place of preaching was changed to a school house in the hollow, near the creek, west of Truman Beach'’, and the school went with it, and continued each summer until that house was removed in 1831 and the school closed. In this school was a little girl named Fanny Phelps, about ten years old, who could commit to memory 100 Bible verses each week, and repeat them on the Sabbath, with no hesitation. Think of that, children! You who find it so hard to remember even the Golden text. They had no library, but were supplied with Sunday school tracts from the Methodist Episcopal Tract Society.
After 1831 there seems to be no positive knowledge of a Sunday school on or near the turnpike for some years.
January 6, 1839, Truman M. Beach joined the Methodist Episcopal church on the turnpike. In the spring the Sunday school was again opened in the school house on what was then called Pumpkin Hill, and continued there each summer until the church was built in 1848, when it was transferred to the church. Truman M. Beach was elected superintendent and continued such nineteen years, until 1858. He died in 1859.
Danvers Bourne had been three years a teacher in this school, and when Mr. Beach’s health failed he was chosen to succeed him, and continued as superintendent until 1865, when he removed to Burlington, became Sunday school superintendent there and remained such thirty-three years, or until 1899. Died September 1, 1901.
In 1844 Charles B. Riggs became secretary of the school and teacher of a Bible class, and with the exception of two years, from 1851 to the close of 1853, remained such until the close of 1856, when he removed to the village of Smithfield, and for many years he was connected with the Congregational school there. From the best information we can obtain from the memories of those connected with the school at the time, George T. Beach became superintendent at the removal of Mr. Bourne and remained such until the close of the year 1867.
Rev. Richard Vidian, pastor, took his place and remained one year, in 1868. The following year occurred a vacancy, although the school continued. In 1849 a library for children was bought, and Lewis Beach was chosen librarian, which office he held until 1852. In 1862 Nehemiah Beach placed $50 in the hands of his grandson, George T. Beach, saying, "Purchase a library for adults and present it to the school for me as a surprise," which was done. Mr. Beach made the request that if the school should cease to exist the library should be divided among his heirs, which was done; some of the heirs sending their portion to a school in the far west.
This was a flourishing school, held only from May until October, meeting at 12:30 p.m., for thirty years, and often numbered nearly 100 persons. Its influence who can tell?
In 1870, when the appointment was consolidated with the one at the village in Smithfield, the school organization ceased, but not its influence. Christian workers had gone out from it to bless the world.
William S. Campbell, until twenty-one years of age, was a scholar, then teacher and active worker in this school. Removing to Minnesota in 1885, he continued in Sunday school work. In 1876 he entered the ministry. After preaching ten years his voice failed, and he was compelled to retire from the pulpit, but not from Sunday school work.
The Methodist Episcopal school in Smithfield Centre opened in 1864, and from the first has continued through the winter. Rev. Rosa was the preacher on the charge, and it is thought was its first superintendent, though records are lacking. Because of lack of records we are unable to state membership. The following is, as near as we can ascertain, the list of superintendents: 1871, George T. Beach; 1872, Peter Van Houten; 1873, name not known. In 1874-5, &c., George Bourne was assistant superintendent. October 8, 1876, C. McClellan was elected superintendent, and B. Havens assistant. September 30, 1877, Mrs. Stathan, wife of the pastor, was elected superintendent, with C. McClellan assistant, and remained such during her husband’s pastorate, two years and a half. Mrs. Stathan was the first woman elected to that position in our village. She possessed especial gifts for Sunday school work, and under her direction the school increased in numbers and interest.
For the year 1878 the record reads: Number of officers and teachers, fourteen; number of scholars, ninety-six; average attendance, sixty-five.
The next pastor, Rev. J. R. Drake, was superintendent one year, in 1880. In 1881 and 1882 Horace W. Keeler and Derrick G. Smith were superintendents. October, 1882, George T. Beach was elected superintendent, with George Bourne assistant. These two young men had been for years fast friends and workers together in Sunday school work. A large class of young men was their especial delight, and they often exchanged, one superintending the school and the other teaching the class; the next Sabbath vice versa. Mr. Bourne met with an accident and died suddenly May 9, 1883. George T. Beach was superintendent of the school until the close of 1885. He sickened and died April 27, 1886. The two friends were united in the better land. From the close of 1885 to the close of 1891 Edward Partridge was superintendent. Mrs. Edith Beach was superintendent during 1892; H.V. Harkness and T.M. Arnout during 1893. Albert O. Scott superintendent from the fall of 1893 until the fall of 1898, when the present superintendent, J. T. Beach, was elected.
The present enrollment of the school is 125 scholars, divided into ten classes, with ten permanent teachers; that is, permanent until teacher or class desire a change.
They have a library of 125 volumes, and the use of sixteen volumes belonging to the Epworth League. They use the Lesson Helps published by the Methodist Episcopal Publishing House, including eight copies of the Sunday School Journal and the Bible Student’s Magazine. The annual expenses of the school are $15, besides the contributions to the County Sunday School Association, varying from three to five dollars.
In studying this history, it has been interesting to note God’s different ways of working.
While many members of this school have been very active in Sunday school and church work, faithful and gifted in public prayer and exhortation, but few have entered the ministry.
John Vankirk was licensed to preach April 9, 1870.
J. B. Wright, license renewed January 10, 1870.
John Miller in early life lived in the home of Deacon Levi Scott, was a scholar in the Baptist Sunday school, with Deacon W. A. Wood as teacher. He writes: "The lessons there learned were never forgotten." He became a Christian and united with the Methodist Episcopal church at Ulster. After giving three years of his life to the service of his country during the civil war, he returned to his home to take up active Christian work. He returned to Smithfield in 1866, was member of a praying band several seasons with Edward Partridge and Derrick G. Smith, superintended Sunday schools at different times at Oak Hill, the Arnold district, and at the French school house. Was licensed to preach in 1870, ordained in 1879, and has been twenty-eight years in faithful service, having the assurance that blessings have followed and many souls have been saved.
Clyde, son of Mr. Bert Gustin, was born in Camptown, Pa., in 1876. From early boyhood he had the highest respect and most intense admiration for a minister of the gospel. His family were not professed Christians, and it was not until their removal to Smithfield, in 1889, that he came under religious influences. He accepted the invitation of a young friend who was a Christian to attend church with him, and soon felt there was a higher and better life he should strive to attain. During a revival season in Smithfield in 1893, he was led to feel that he must give his heart to Christ. At once the impression came, if you become a Christian you will be called to preach. He answered, Lord, I will obey the call if the way is opened for me; but supposed a college education would be indispensable. The first night of the meeting in the Methodist Episcopal church, he went forward with other members of his family for prayers. All became Christians. The question of entering the ministry forced itself upon his mind, but seeing no way of obtaining the desired education, "he tried to forget his promise, hoping God would forget, too." Again and again he heard the call, and realizing that refusal to obey had brought great spiritual declension to his soul, he sought the advice of his pastor and other Christian friends. They, having seen in him gifts and graces fitting for the ministry, urged obedience, and he accepted the invitation of his pastor, and preached his first sermon in his home church to a large audience. Soon after he was called to the conference by the presiding elder and given charge of the church at Big Flats, N.Y., where he still remains, very happy in his Master’s service.
The closing year of the century finds another young member of the church, Guy Farnsworth, in school preparing for the ministry.
Benjamin M. Peck was a native of and spent his early life in Smithfield. As a child he was remarkable for kindness of heart to all, his obedience to his parents, and honorable character. He improved to the utmost what opportunities he had for securing an education, and chose the law for his profession. The family removed to Towanda; he pursued his studies there and was admitted to the bar. As a lawyer he had the confidence of the people and was made judge of the county court, a position he held until his death, October, 1899. In 1866 he joined the Methodist Episcopal church in Towanda, and January 13, 1876, was elected superintendent of the Sunday school and continued such over twenty years. After his death a member said of him: "He was a tower of strength to us; a counselor faithful and true; always a Christian gentleman. Oh, how we miss him." He followed Christ and achieved success.
THE CONGREGATIONAL SUNDAY SCHOOL
In 1830, Rev. William Franklin, pastor of the Congregational church, organized a union Sunday school in a school house near the present residence of Joseph Waldron. Why was it held in a school house when there were two church buildings so near? Because members of all the churches attended, with their families, and each feared if it was taken into the other one’s church it might be sectarian. Bulkley Tracy was its first superintendent. It met at 9 A.M. on Sunday. They had one Union Question Book and three library books. The title of one was, "Catherine Brown, or the Life of an Indian Girl," much of the style of "The Dairyman’s Daughter," a very popular story book of that day.
John Doty, a young man, a licentiate from Hamilton College, in New York state, came to Smithfield in September of that year, and it was an event of great importance to that school when they were marched from the school house to the Baptist church to hear Mr. Doty preach a sermon to the children. He used the term, "Sacred oracles" so frequently, and with so much force, that a little girl of nine years was so much impressed with his superior knowledge that she remembers it to this day. That was Mr. Doty’s first sermon in Smithfield and the close of the school for that year. Mr. Doty became pastor of the Baptist church and remained such six years.
The next spring, 1831, May 1st, the school was again opened in the Congregational church, Bulkley Tracy superintendent. To avoid sectarianism and make it in fact what it was in name, a union school, Elder Doty, the Baptist pastor, and Dr. Daniel Andrus, a Methodist, were appointed co-superintendents, which arrangement continued many years. Mr. Doty being gifted in prayer, usually conducted the opening exercises. He was an attendant many years and helpful in work. Even after the Sunday school was opened in the Baptist church at the noon hour, he would still go with his children to the Congregational school at nine in the morning , to the Baptist school at noon, and ofttimes to the school in the Niles school house at 5 P.M. This school was held at 9 o’clock Sunday morning from May 1st to September 1st, when it closed and a Bible class took its place, held at the noon hour between the two sermons of that day, and for many years taught by the pastor, Rev. C. C. Corss.
To this school eagerly came the some of the parents, of all denominations and of no denomination, from miles around. They did not come riding in covered carriages, wearing gay and costly clothing, but came on foot, wearing home-made garments that mothers and sisters had spun and woven, carrying their stockings and shoes in their hands "to save wearing them out," until they were almost there and then sat down by the roadside and put them on; or else they did as one said in my hearing the other evening; "My father had two little boys, and every Sunday morning he took each one by the hand and walked with them to the Sunday school, and we were not troubled about carrying our shoes, for we went barefooted." Children, think of little William Tracy, who, the summer he was six years old, walked every Sunday morning four miles with his older sisters to the Sunday school. That it did not hurt him is evident from the size to which he grew, and we know it made a good man of him. I cannot give particulars concerning the method of instruction in this school, further than that they were divided into classes taught by men and women of the different churches, the superintendents and officers always men. They used the Union Question Book. They had quite a large library, and sang the songs of Zion from good old Watts hymn book, for hymn and tune books for children were then unknown. The Christian churches of Smithfield to-day little realize how much they and the world owe to the earnest, faithful instruction given in that school in the catechism, and the grand Bible truths of man’s sinfulness, and Christ’s atonement; of God’s sovereignty and His love, and man’s obligation to yield willing obedience to God’s laws. This school continued a union school until the other churches organized their own schools; since then has been known as the Congregational Sunday school of East Smithfield. In 1852 the time of meeting was changed from morning to noon.
Mr. Bulkley Tracy continued as superintendent thirty-two years, or until his death, April 16, 1862. By request, Alanson Tracy then assumed the duties and filled the office acceptably until August 28, the same year, when he entered the army in the civil war and gave up his life on the bloody field of Gettysburg. For eleven years William H. Phelps and Albert O. Tracy acted as superintendents. Up to this time it was not the custom to have formal elections yearly. Persons would volunteer or be requested to act; common consent would be given without formal vote. April 26, 1873, the first election was held, of which any record can be found. William H. Phelps was chosen superintendent. The following resolution was passed: "The annual election of officers of this Sunday school shall be held on the first Sunday in January of each year." January 1, 1874, Rev. J. H. Nason, pastor of the church, became superintendent of the Sunday school and remained such three years. He was a zealous worker, and under his influence the school increased in numbers and interest. He held teachers’ meetings for the study of the lesson in his own house, and for several months united with the pastors and teachers of the Disciple and Baptist Sunday schools in union teachers’ meetings weekly. From January 1, 1877, to January 1, 1883, Charles B. Riggs was chosen superintendent, after having been Bible class teacher twenty years. During these years he was elected to and attended the state Sabbath school conventions at Williamsport, Altoona, Lancaster and Easton. From 1883 to 1885, Rev. C. H. Phelps, pastor of the church, was superintendent.
Frank H. Scott, from 1885 to 1895, when Miss Nancy Corss was elected, and remains such at the present time. Miss Corss is the daughter of Rev. C. C. Corss, so long pastor of the church. After years of teaching, she returned to her childhood’s home to care for her aged parents. The church appreciating her ability and devotion to their interests, made her Sunday school superintendent and gave her other work, all of which she enjoys doing for the Master. Miss Corss writes September 24, 1900: "The Congregational school is being carried on without radical change. Progress fairly good. We rejoice that those who have gone out from us are workers in other fields."
She writes—"The first missionary offering of which we have any record, was a contribution of twenty-five dollars, toward building the first Morning Star, a vessel for the service of the American Board of Foreign Missions between San Francisco the Sandwich Islands and Micronesia. Each contributor of ten cents or more received from the board a certificate of stock. This was in 1856, and was remembered by the contributors, but the interest did not assume a practical form until the pastorate of Rev. C. H. Phelps, about 1882. At that time it was resolved that we contribute ten dollars a year toward the expenses of the Morning Star. This is an annual contribution still. The money is applied for the work of the Micronesian Mission. Children’s day is observed regularly, and collections taken for the missionary work of the Congregational Sunday school and Publication Society. Offerings for other objects are made at the discretion of the school.
The recreation of the school through its whole history has been the picnic, which was expected annually, unless there was some especial reason for its omission. These picnics were sometimes for one, very often for all the schools, the entire congregation included. Generally music and addresses formed the program of the morning, the afternoon being spent socially. The address as a feature of the picnic is not now considered necessary, while exercises in other forms on other occasions are expected. We celebrated Christmas for the first time on the evening of December 24, 1874, Rev. J. H. Nason being pastor. After a suitable exercise, the school enjoyed their first Christmas tree. The pastor gave Testaments to a class of boys, some of which, we know are still used and highly prized. Since that evening, well remembered by those participating in the exercises, there has been occasional remembrance of the day, growing in the last few years to frequent observance, by appropriate exercises and sometimes a tree or social.
Members of school during 1900, 100.
Number of books in library, 200.
The international lessons are used; quarterlies and weekly school papers suitable for the different classes are distributed.
WORKERS FROM CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
From this church and Sunday school seven persons have entered the ministry: Ezra Rathbone very early in its history, and of whom very little can now be learned; Charles Kneiper and John Reidenback, two brethren of German birth, of whom we know little, only that they became ministers, and J. Reidenback was pastor of a Lutheran church in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the late 60’s.
Stephen Allen Califf, was born in Smithfield, Feb. 29, 1836. When but a small boy he began attending the Sunday school in the Congregational church. Study of the lessons, with the advice given the class by its teacher, Henry Miner, to read a chapter or more in the Bible daily, had much to do in shaping his life. Home training and influence, the evangelical preaching of the Rev. C. C. Corss, and the privilege of attending a private school taught by Miss Emiline Tracy, were all helpful. But the Sunday school and the young life became closely connected; the Sunday school not as an institution having organization and forms, but the Sunday school as leading to the study of the Scriptures and to interest in them. The first book bought, when nine or ten years old, was one explaining passages of Scripture, that the lessons might be better understood. Having an obstacle in not knowing the meaning of words, and not having a dictionary, he borrowed one, and began committing it to memory, so that he might know the meanings and not have to ask so much. This was, however, abandoned after a while for good reason. When thirteen years old he made "long" shingles and sold them for about fourteen dollars, with which a Webster’s dictionary and other books were bought. And from that time on books were bought, especially such as were helpful in the study of the Bible.
He was probably converted when about twelve years old. But his desire to unite with the church was not made known to any one until after he was fifteen, when he told a deacon of the church. And on January 2, 1852; a public profession of religion was made.
After attending schools in his native town, studies preparatory for college were pursued in the Susquehanna Collegiate Institute, 1856-9. He graduated from Jefferson College in 1862, and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1865. In August, 1865, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Susquehanna Presbytery, and was ordained by the same Presbytery May 14, 1867. He has served the following churches in the ministry: the Congregational churches of West Newark and Speedsville, N.Y.; the Presbyterian churches of Wells and Columbia and North Wells, Pa.; of McIntyre, Pa.; and the Congregational church of East Smithfield. In 1898 he became acting pastor of the Presbyterian church of Poundridge, N.Y.
The interest in Sunday school that was early awakened has never abated. He has been a teacher or superintendent and a teacher in the school of the church wherever he has preached; and has helped organize and conduct quite a number of other schools, always under this deep conviction, that faithful and honest study of the Bible leads to Christ.
Henry A. Miner united with the church at thirteen years of age. Prepared for college under the tuition of his pastor, Rev. C. C. Corss. Graduated from Williamstown College in 1853, after heroically spending his vacations in teaching schools for money to pay bills, being a poor boy. After graduating from Bangor Theological Seminary, and a few months’ pastorate in Maine, he removed to Menasha, Wisconsin, where he was ordained and remained ten years. The church was greatly blessed and increased largely in numbers.
Besides serving in other pastorates, he became superintendent of Home Missions of the state of Wisconsin and remained such ten years. While acting as supply for various churches he was also for several years financial agent for Beloid and Downer Colleges, raising thousands of dollars for them. He was for many years a trustee of Ripon, Beloit and Downer Colleges, the latter being for young women only, now merged in the Milwaukee and Downer College. Besides these labors he founded and edited for twelve years a monthly paper entitled "Our Church Work," in the interest of the Congregational churches of the state. For the past ten years he has edited "The Northwestern Mail," a Christian weekly newspaper.
Chapin C. Tracy became a Christian in early life. He graduated from Williams College, Mass., in 1864, and from Union Theological Seminary in 1867, and went immediately to Marsovan, Turkey, as a missionary under the supervision of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions, where he still remains. He is president of Anatolia College, which he founded. His labors have been abundant and trying, as it was his lot to pass through the trying scenes of the terrible famine which visited Turkey and Armenia in the early 70’s. Thousands of the poor natives starved to death. Natives of all ages came by the hundreds into his village, and even to his door, begging for food. They were so emaciated and so nearly naked as to be hardly recognizable as human beings. To all these he would give a piece of bread, until his stores became so reduced that for a while it seemed that he and his family would share the same fate. Fever, caused by the famine, then attacked his wife and two children, and they barely escaped death. When the Mission Board called him home to America for rest, he had no thought of giving up his work, but spent much of his time traveling from city to city, from state to state, trying to awaken interest in the work he so loved. At the close of his vacation he and his family gladly returned to Marsovan, there to pass through and witness the horrors of the Armenian massacre. But his faith failed not, nor did his service for the Master cease.
A few years ago he received the title of D. D. from his Alma Mater.
Charles Henry, son of Ralph Phelps, had a Christian mother who early taught him to pray the Lord’s prayer, and make it his own both night and morning, and he cannot remember the time when he did not do it, nor the time when he did not wish to be a Christian. In very early life he was a member of Harry L. Bird’s class in the Congregational Sunday school, and later in Henry Miner’s class. For these teachers he has always had the warmest affection. Later in life he would attend the Congregational school at 9 A. M., in the Congregational church, the Baptist Sunday school in the village at the noon hour, and every Sabbath during the summer at 5 P. M., the school in the Niles school house.
He writes: "Better to me, more fruitful and helpful in later life than a multitude of sermons, has been the earnest, loving, social study of God’s word which liveth and abideth." He united with the church at sixteen years of age. From sixteen to twenty-seven years of age his life was spent upon the farm, in the public school and in study. He had an intense desire to know and become a teacher of moral truth, that the world might be the better for his having lived in it. A knowledge of this led others to believe his life work would be in the ministry, but a lack of pecuniary resources and a seeming need to minister to the wants of others kept the door of especial preparation so long closed, he ceased to think of it, then followed three years of army life; twelve years of business in Walton, N. Y., when every opportunity to teach God’s word was improved, even to walking every Sunday five miles to superintend and teach in a Sunday school. Ministerial friends who had long known him, urged upon him their convictions that it was his duty to enter the ministry. He accepted it as a call from God, and after spending two years in teaching English and studying Greek in Marion, Mass., he was ordained in Walton, N. Y., in 1880. His first pastorate of five years was in Smithfield, his native town, then three years in Ohio, three in Mattapoisett, Mass., when his health having failed he returned to his Smithfield home and friends, to spend his remaining days, where, as opportunity offers and strength permits, he engages in public worship, visits and prays with the sick, and buries the dead, patiently waiting the time to enter the promised Heavenly Mansion.
Cora, daughter of Rev. J. H. Nason, was eight years a member of this school. She united with the church at ten years of age. She graduated from Carleton college, Minn., in 1891. She taught after graduation one year in a girls’ school in Kentucky, and one year as superintendent of a mission school at West Superior, Wis. There she displayed such especial talent for mission work she was appointed by the American Board of the Congregational Missionary Society as their missionary to Turkey in 1894. She was a teacher in a boarding school for Armenian and Greek girls at Tabor, a suburb of Ceserea, Turkey, four years, then transferred to Marsovan for one year to assist Rev. C. C. Tracy in the girls’ school there. After spending one year in this country she expects to return in the fall of 1901 to become principal and matron of the girls’ school in Tabor. She considers this is to be her life work. In this school the Bible is used daily as a text book, and Sundays a regular Sunday school is held in the school building.
From the first organization of this school, Harry L. Bird was an active worker, and assistant superintendent until his removal to Potter Co., in 1850.
His sons, who in childhood were scholars, and here learned to love God, the church and the souls of men, have given time, talents and money to the work. Lucien has been teacher or superintendent in Potter, Elk and Cameron counties. For thirty years a worker in Clearfield County, never permitting an opportunity for work to pass unimproved.
Brainerd, (Dr. O. B. Bird) son of Harry L. Bird, is possessed of musical ability, and began playing the organ in Sunday school when a boy. In 1868 he played for Gov. Pollock’s Bible class in Philadelphia; in 1870 he led the music in three Sunday schools and one church the same day; at Menominee, Mich., had charge of Sunday school and church music. Professional duties demanding his time, he gave up the work for a time, but in 1887 he again entered his favorite field, and added to his music in Sunday school, blackboard pictures and talks.
He draws symbolical pictures, full of suggestion and spiritual meaning to illustrate his talks, which are short, sharp, well digested, easily remembered. In Providence, R. I., where he spent the winter of 1887 and 1888, he carried a flexible black-board from one school to another, and addressed a thousand people each week. He has written the music for fifty gospel hymns and a score of anthems; is now in New York city, chief examiner in the International Correspondence School of Music.
Harlan Page, son of Harry L. Bird, was from early childhood in the Sunday school; when still very young was called upon to act as secretary-treasurer, and then to teach a class, thus becoming a member in early years. After returning from the civil war he settled in Marinette, Wisl, was soon elected superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday school there, and occupied the same position at Menominee, Mich. Removing to Stephenson, Mich., he assisted in organizing a church and Sunday school and was its superintendent for three years.
Returning to Menominee, he took up the mission school work of the Presbyterian church, and for several years did not miss a Sunday in superintending it. Upon removing to Wausaukee, Wis., he again assisted in organizing a church and Sunday school, and since 1896 has been its superintendent. He writes: "The average attendance of the various schools of which I have been superintendent, combined, is about 1,000, but by the constant changes that occur in all schools, I suppose that at least twice that number have looked to me as their superintendent and been influenced for good or ill. My prayer is that it may be for good." He gives this thought worthy of the consideration of every Sunday school worker: "Elevate the ideals of our children and youth, by placing before them the pure, noble, strong principles that are taught in such bold language in our dear old Bible, and they are on the right road to reach the highest a man or woman can attain to. I have tried to pull the boys along that line."
Charles, son of Rev. Charles C. Corss, settled in Lockhaven in 1860; he is a member of the Clinton county bar, an elder in the Presbyterian church, and a very helpful teacher in the Sunday school.
Frederic, of the same family, is an elder in the Presbyterian church. A physician with a large practice, he finds time to be a helper of many, especially young people.
John Dorrance Tracy was for many years a member of the church and Sunday school; he was many years a teacher in the school before his removal to Dakota; he is very much missed. In his new home he teaches a large Bible class in the Methodist Episcopal church, three miles from his home in Dale. As the families are much scattered, the school is suspended during the severe winter weather. Mr. Tracy invites his grandchildren to his own home on Sunday afternoons to study the lessons. In the exercise they take great interest.
E. G. Tracy, M. D., was a member of the Congregational Sunday school when four years old. Ever since, when in Pennsylvania University, while in the legislature of his state, and in the busy life of a medical practitioner, he has been identified with Sunday schools, either as teacher or superintendent, ofttimes the latter. He writes: "My parents were pious people, and their influence upon us children ran parallel with that of the Sunday school. It was my father’s practice every Sunday afternoon to get the family together and study the lesson for the next Sunday. O, I love the Sunday school! What I was there taught, together with the instruction of my parents, is responsible for all the good there is in me. How those dear old times and companions of my youth dwell in my memory.
BAPTIST CHURCH SUNDAY SCHOOL, 1838
In the Baptist church records we find the following: June 14, 1838, voted that we have a Bible class, and that Brother Samuel Farwell superintend it. How long that class continued, or how conducted, is not known. In 1839, Rev. W. H. H. Dwyer became pastor of the church. He arranged a Bible class upon the following plan: The New Testament was divided into thirty-seven divisions of seven chapters each. Thirty-seven adults took part in the exercises and were numbered. Number one read the first division or the first seven chapters of Matthew, one for each day of the week; number two read the second division, or the next seven chapters, and so on, the whole of the new Testament being read each week. A subject was given out each Sabbath for the week, such as Repentance, Faith, Hope, Love, The Atonement, Baptism, The Resurrection, Eternal Live, etc. Subject changed each week. The class was held on Sunday noon, the hour between the two sermons of those days. The leader stated the subject and called upon number one. He arose and read what he had found in his seven chapters upon that subject. Number two next, and so on to the end. The second week, number one read the second seven chapters of Matthew; number two the third, and so on, the whole thirty-seven having a new division each week. How long this continued is not known.
In 1845, Deacon Abraham Wood organized the first Sunday school for children in the Baptist church, and was its first superintendent. After his death in 1848, the school was continued each summer by Deacon Samuel Farwell, Samuel Niles and others, thought I have not been able to learn definitely, until April of 1852, when Rev. Joel Hendrick, pastor of the church, became superintendent of the school. He was especially adapted to Sunday school work. His influence gave a new inspiration and aroused an enthusiasm in the work which remains until this day.
Of this school, Mr. Hendrick writes: "At the opening of the school, April, 1852, I was appointed superintendent and reappointed each year for four years, or during my pastorate. We had no Sunday school hymn books, but used the ordinary church hymn book. Our singing was not of the animated nature we now hear, nor as abundant. One hymn to open with was deemed sufficient, then prayer. No such series of lessions as we now have was known then. At first someone suggested question books. I did not favor it, believing questions right from the teachers would elicit better attention and give more interest to the exercises. All aquiesced in my wishes. It was customary to take some book of the New Testament, take it by course, seven verses each week, commit the verses to memory, and the first exercise after the prayer was each class to recite the lesson; then the teacher would ask the questions upon the lesson, followed by a review by the superintendent, who sought to impress upon the whole school some one or more points of the lesson to take home with them. One season we began at the first chapter of the book of John, the next season at the eighteenth chapter of John and finished the book. Another at the first chapter of Hebrews. We had Sunday school library books to distribute among the younger classes. For the first time in the history of the school weekly collections were taken, called penny collections, to use for the school or such benevolence as they chose. At the suggestion of the superintendent, they voted that the collection on the last Sunday of the month should be for the missions, and they became so much interested that the collections on that Sunday were larger than on any other." He adds: "One feature of the school was that with few exceptions the church and congregation constituted the membership of the school, and great interest was manifested in learning what the Bible teaches.
Elder Hendrick’s services as superintendent ceased in the fall of 1855, and as pastor, January 1, 1856. Mr. Hendrick relates an incident of interest. One boy of about ten or twelve years was always present with his lesson well learned and answered review questions promptly. When the collection was taken, he would put his hand into the basket with the money concealed; it would generally be five cents, not infrequently ten cents, and once not having the money, he put in a slip of paper marked twenty-five cents. Two or three weeks after, one dark Saturday night in October, he put in a slip of paper marked twenty-five cents. Two or three weeks after, one dark Saturday night in October he came to my house with the money, saying "he had to wait to earn the money." Years after, Mr. Hendrik received a letter from the young man asking him to write a letter to the member of congress from his district, recommending him for appointment as a cadet in the naval school at Annapolis, Md. Mr. Hendrick says: "I did not know what to write, except I had known him as a Sunday school scholar, and gave some of his characteristics. I was afterward told that letter secured his appointment. He went to the school and for thirty-five years has been an officer of creditable rank in the United States army. He is now known as Major Mark Califf.
Elder W. H. H. Dwyer succeeded Elder Hendrick in his second pastorate in the church, January 1, 1856, and continued four years. Who the Sunday school superintendent was, we have not been able to ascertain for a certainty, but think it was Deacon Samuel Farwell. As the school was not continued during the winter months, Benjamin P. Scott conducted a Bible class of adults several months at the noon hour each winter, for several years, but exact dates cannot be given. February 1, 1861, Rev. James Parker became pastor of the church, and in May superintendent of the Sunday school, and continued such until the close of his pastorate, December 1864.
He was an enthusiastic Sunday school worker, gaining the affections and inspiring enthusiasm in both old and young, and in the fall of 1862, gained consent to continue the school through the winter. It was the first school in the village to try the experiment, and proved a success. The other schools soon followed the example. In the winter of 1863-4, he baptized thirty-four members of the school into the fellowship of the church; all young people.
January 1, 1865, Daniel J. Allen became superintendent and continued until 1870, when Dallas J. Pierce was elected and continued in the office until 1880, except in 1873-4, when Pastor Everett was superintendent. In 1870, scholars enrolled, 135. In 1872, Rev. P. S. Everett became pastor. He was a young man full of life, strength and spiritual force, and soon gained great influence. Rev. J. H. Nason of the Congregational, and Rev. B. S. Dean of the Disciple churches, were like-minded and co-operated with him in Christian and Sunday school work, and perhaps at no time in the history of this town has greater progress been made in spiritual life and work. From 1870 to 1883 were years of continuous growth in numbers and interest in Sunday school and church work in the Baptist church. In 1870 the membership of the church was 155, of the Sunday school 149. In the winter of 1871-2 a revival took place, many of the scholars were baptized, and the school soon numbered 176. In February, 1874, our church building was burned.
Having no place for church worship and Sunday school but a school building, it suffered much and declined in interest and numbers. The new church building was dedicated February 3, 1875, J. D. Pierce superintendent of Sunday school. The school opened in the new church with increased interest and much prayer for God’s blessing, and in June numbered 140 members. In the summer of 1875, Pastor Everett had charge of a school held at five o’clock afternoon in the Riggs school house, four miles from town. He was intensely anxious for the salvation of souls. In our union weekly teachers meeting for the study of the lesson, a portion of the evening was always spent in earnest prayer for a revival and the salvation of sinners. The winter of 1875-6 was a memorable one. Early in the winter the presence of God’s spirit was manifest. Pastor Everett commenced a series of meetings, the other churches joined in the work and a powerful revival prevailed, in which all the churches shared in the blessing. Of a class of twenty young men taught by Mrs. N. L. Bird, twelve were converted and baptized, and the school soon numbered 184. Of these young men, some remain with us, others labor elsewhere, and others still have gone to the heavenly mansions.
In the two years, 1875-6, forty young men and women were baptized. Brother Pierce was a most faithful superintendent, always in his place—though oftentimes at great cost of time and strength. God will reward.
Rev. Alanson Tilden became pastor of the church in November, 1878, and January 1st, 1880, was elected superintendent of the Sunday school. Pastor Tilden’s interest in the school and in its work was second to none; not only in superintending, but in teaching a class of young men, for which he is especially fitted. He missed no opportunity of seeking to advance its interests. In 1880 he commenced to raise money to buy a library. The first sociable was held at his house and netted $10. Sociables were held at other places. When $50 was raised, he proposed an entertainment in the church, with recitations, music and tableaux, which netted $40. Money was raised in other ways until May, 1882, having in hand $115, he went to New York and purchased 208 volumes. To purchase a library case, an ice cream social was held at George West’s, which netted $26. A vote was passed that the collections taken on the first Sunday in the month should constitute a library fund for repairs and additions, which has prevailed to this day. Amos T. Allen, Mrs. Emma Wood, and N. L. Bird were made a permanent committee to have charge of the library repairs and the purchase of new books when the fund reached $10, if it seemed advisable. The thoughtful care of the successive librarians and the committee has been so great that up to date only one book has been lost. Pastor Tilden contributed several volumes from his library, and we felt we had one of which we might justly feel proud. In 1882, during Pastor Tilden’s superintendency, the school reached its highest point in numbers. Scholars enrolled, 241, with an average attendance of 100 during the year. For several weeks during the summer the attendance was 135, and one Sunday it was 150, the highest number ever reached. Number of scholars over eighteen, 129; number heads of families, forty-three; number male scholars, sixty-one; number of females, 121; officers and teachers, fourteen; membership of church, 209.
1882—J. E. Hills was superintendent, with Pastor Tilden as assistant. January 1st, 1883, Pastor Tilden again superintendent, with D. J. Pierce assistant. Pastor Tilden’s labors with church and Sunday school closed in June, 1883. Jan. 4, 1884, George Ballentine was elected superintendent, with Mrs. N. L. Bird assistant, and continued such until June, 1885, when he left town and Mrs. Bird took charge of the school. During that year scholars enrolled 150, with average attendance of 100. She continued superintendent until December 1891, when she declined re-election, and Pastor R. W. McCullough took her place. He resigned the pastorate in June following, and Mrs. Lucy Harding was at once elected and most ably filled the position until she also left the town in 1895. Mrs. Cora Riggs was then unanimously chosen to succeed her, and by yearly vote of the school remains superintendent at the close of the century. Both are consecrated Christian women, and capable and faithful in church and Sunday school work. In their election and faithful discharge of their duties we note the following fact which is interesting: Mrs. Harding is grand-daughter of Deacon Samuel Farwell, and Mrs. Riggs great-grand-daughter of Deacon Samuel Wood, the two men who were first to organize Sunday school work in this Baptist church. While we do not believe in hereditary salvation, we do believe in the principle of heredity, both physically and morally, and in God’s promise that a blessing shall follow the Christian even to generations following. May changes have taken place since 1885. Decreased population, removal of whole families from town, and many deaths have reduced our numbers. Deacons L. B. Scott and W. A. Wood, always at the front as teachers and advisers, have been called to a higher service in Heaven. The workers are taken, but the work remains. Our superintendent discharges her duties faithfully, loyally assisted by officers, teachers and scholars. Pastor Tilden teaches a large class of men, mostly young men; Mrs. Tilden a class of young ladies, while our boys and girls are taught by those who seek their highest good. The International Lessons are used, with the Baptist Publication Society Helps. Children’s Day is always observed with an annual contribution of from $12 to $15 to the American Baptist Publication Society. Weekly collections are taken in the school—used for school supplies or otherwise, as they may direct.
Christmas exercises of some kind are usually observed; ofttimes Christmas trees, and Santa Claus with his gifts gives great cheer. The school sends its superintendent and delegates annually to the Sunday School Convention of the Bradford Baptist Association, and to the Bradford County Sunday School Association, and papers and essays when requested. In the past three years eighteen members of the school have been baptized into the fellowship of the church.
Present membership of church, 176
Scholars enrolled in Sunday school, aged from six to seventy years, 137.
Average attendance, 66.
Papers taken, 40.
Volumes in library, 313.
Expenses of Sunday school, $23.12
Earnest Christian workers have gone out from the Baptist church of Smithfield, the same as the others, of which the following will show: J. Wayland, son of Deacon Colburn Allen, was, early in life, taken by his parents to Sunday school, church and covenant meetings, as well as given religious instruction in the home. At twenty-three years of age, when a student at Bucknell University, at Lewisburg, Pa., he was converted and baptized, and soon felt called to preach the gospel. He graduated with the title of A. B. in 1873. He was ordained in Winthrop, Iowa, Oct. 30, 1883, and has continued as pastor over different churches seventeen years. While in the pastorate he has been active superintending Sunday schools in his church and at out stations. He writes; "I love the Sunday school and would not be pastor of a church that would not sustain one." He gives this little fact as illustrative of what its influence may be: In the red sand-stones of the Connecticut valley are the foot-prints of fowls that walked the beach when the stone was yielding sand; now those prints are in the solid rock. More enduring than these prints of the birds are the impressions we make, for good or ill, upon the hearts about us, especially upon the hearts of the children and the youth.
John L., son of Dr. Lebbeus Doty, was born in Canajoharie, N. Y., in 1836. When quite a small boy his father moved to Smithfield, Pa.. He lived three years in the family of Samuel Niles, where he was a constant attendant upon church and Sunday school, and at the age of fourteen united with the Baptist church. At sixteen years of age he taught his first school, and soon after commenced the study of the law with Dr. Darius Bullock. In 1859, at twenty-three years of age, he removed to Lock Haven, Clinton county, where he taught in the public schools until he had finished his law studies, was admitted to the bar and commenced law practice. In 1871 he removed to Washington, D. C., having accepted a clerkship in the United States Treasury. He also assisted the Register of the Treasury in signing U. S. bonds, and was made confidential secretary to members of Congress. He remained in these positions fifteen years, when a change in administration caused his removal from office. In 1856 he removed to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he resumed his chosen profession.
For fifteen years, or until his death, he remained a member of the bar. He was no less active in the religious than in the business life. In Lock Haven he married, and united with the Methodist Episcopal church. In Washington, D. C. he was a member of the Metropolitan M. E. church, and served on the official board, of which he was secretary. It became his duty to write the letter of condolence to Mrs. Grant upon the death of ex-President Grant. He was twelve years of his life in Washington the teacher of the largest Bible class in the Sunday school of the church. He organized Sunday schools in outside districts; visited the prisons and jails, prayed with convicts; in fact was a home missionary. His Christian activity continued in Nebraska until his death, having served his church nearly forty years in an official capacity, and his blessed Master, Jesus, fifty-one years. He quietly and full of hope passed into the life beyond April 8th, 1901.
Franklin, son of Davis Pierce, was converted at twelve years of age and joined the Baptist church. Felt early drawn to the ministry, and in all his efforts to get an education this was in his thoughts. He graduated from Cook Academy, N. Y., after a two years’ course, spent four years at Crozer Theological Seminary at Upland, Pa., graduating in 1881. He was ordained in his home church at Smithfield, July 1sth, the same year. Has been nineteen years in the active ministry as pastor—now only supplying occasionally. He was pastor of the Columbia and Wells church three years, where he baptized thirty converts—fifteen uniting with the Presbyterian church. At Wyalusing he helped to organize the church, was their first pastor, had a precious revival and many were baptized. He records 125 baptisms in all, while many joined other churches.
He has done much missionary work, at times having from three to five churches under his care, preaching three times on Sunday, with long distances to ride to reach appointments. Has done but little Sunday school work, leaving that in the hands of competent members of the church. He writes; "I try to hold myself in readiness for any work the Lord of the Vineyard has for me to do. I love the work. The Master will make no mistake, but assigns me the place best for me and the cause."
Daniel J., son of Asa Allen, was in early life connected with this Sunday school as scholar, then teacher, and from 1865 to 1870, as superintendent. During that time it was impressed upon his mind God called upon him to preach, but he did not listen to the call. He filled important offices in the church, being clerk of the church, and in 1872 was chosen deacon. In 1874 he removed to Watkins, N. Y., where he engaged in church work and was made Sunday school superintendent. His pastor said to him repeatedly; "I believe God calls you to the ministry." He confessed having received the same impression, but for eleven years longer he refused obedience. Moving to Elmira in 1889, he listened to the inward voice and that of the church, and was licensed to preach by the First Baptist church of Elmira. He accepted a call to the Baptist church at Hunts, in December 1890, was ordained in April following, remained there three years and has been seven years at Howard, N. Y. faithfully sowing the seed of the Kingdom.
E. B. Dwyer, son of Rev. W. H. H. Dwyer, was born in Smithfield, October 11, 1865. Was converted at ten years of age, but did not make a public profession until two years later, when he joined the Baptist church at Alba. Commenced teaching in the Sunday school at Alba at thirteen years of age. Moving with his family to Kansas, he continued Sunday school work, teaching in Kansas, also in New Mexico during his stay there. Afterward was superintendent of a school at Pleasant Hill, Kansas. After returning to Pennsylvania, he accomplished a long wished for purpose, to enter the ministry. He was licensed to preach by the Springfield church, April 26, 1896, and was ordained by the same, October 29, the same year, where the close of the century finds him as pastor, having seen rich fruits for his labors. He writes: "The Bible school has been one of the great formative influences of my life. Some of my earliest recollections are of the Sunday school, and have been and are, powerful for good in my life. I have found the truths learned in those early days to be very helpful to me in the pastorate, as well as in my individual life. And the influence of some of my teachers at least, has only increased and become more potent with passing years. I believe the methods of the Bible school to be those of Apostolic teaching, and that in the end they will have proven to be the most effective.
Merrit, son of Allen H. Wood, was converted very early in life and joined the Baptist church in Smithfield. He was a constant attendant of the Sunday school until the family removed to Athens. He graduated from the high school there, then entered Hiram College, Ohio, where the close of the century finds him preparing for the ministry in the Disciple church, having united with them.
SCHOOL OF THE DISCIPLE OR CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Last to organize, but by no means least in numbers and influence, is the school in the Disciple church. Organized April 28, 1850, with forty-two scholars and nine teachers. Samuel D. Evans, at that time teaching school in the town, was its first superintendent, and Marcus B. Gerould secretary. It continued only through the summer. No record of a school again in this church until May, 1854, when it again opened with Jonathan Wood as superintendent, and Henry Gerould secretary. Rev. B. S. Dean in his history says: "It was some years before the body of the church took an active part in the Sunday school. For a long time there was only one Bible class of a dozen members. At the end of ten years the school numbered over 100."
In the fall of 1863, Dr. Henry Gerould, who was visiting in the town, urged its continuance through the winter; others urged it, and the experiment succeeded so admirably the school has never closed since. In 1870, Rev. B. S. Dean became pastor of the church, and in reply to my request for information he furnishes the following: "When I came to Smithfield in 1870, the school was well organized, with A. C. Hale superintendent, and a corps of fifteen teachers and 140 scholars. I was urged to take the superintendency. There was a fine body of most excellent young people, a most promising field. I believed it was an opening I ought to improve, and accepted and continued superintendent during my eight years’ pastorate. I found the school in the old ruts, every class going its own way, memorizing and reciting Bible verses. Mrs. L. L. Moody suggested uniform lessons; and I mapped a series upon the life of Christ, until the International series came into use and we fell into line." He at once appointed weekly teachers’ meetings for the study of the lesson, which continued during his superintendency. One season for several months they united with the pastors and teachers of the Congregational and Baptist churches in union teachers’ meetings. Of this Mr. Dean writes: "Yes, I remember those teacher’s meetings at my house, and at the prayer meeting room over the vestibule of the Baptist church. I remember that while some of us worshipped on the Lord’s day in different houses, our hearts got wondrously near in those little gatherings for prayer and the study of God’s word." The report of the school for the quarter ending June 25, 1876, was: Number of officers, 5; Teachers, 19; scholars, 218; total, 242. Average attendance, including visitors, 156. Number in Sunday school, members of the church, 120.
Mr. Dean left the pastorate of the church and superintendency of the school in 1878, and Eugene Kingsley was elected superintendent the following Sabbath, and has remained until the present time. He has been ably assisted by his pastors, Revs. E. E. Manly, S. C. Humphrey and the present pastor, L. J. Reynolds; also the elders of the church and a faithful corps of teachers. The highest enrollment in this school since 1885 has been 192. The highest average 98. The average enrollment from 1885 to 1900 has been 162. Average attendance 81. Average expenses of school since 1885, $33.54. Amount of money raised for library since 1885, $101.47. Number added to the church from Sunday school since 1885, 108. Children’s day is always observed with appropriate exercises, and the money raised donated to foreign missions. Amount raised on children’s day since 1885, $386.30. They use the International Lesson Helps of the Standard Publishing Company. They distribute in the school papers entitled The Young Disciple.
January 15, 1901, the superintendent, Eugene Kingsley, writes: "The report of the Christian Sunday school for 1900 is; Number on roll, 164; average attendance, 77; money raised from school for expenses, $26.86; amount paid for current expenses, $21.32; raised for foreign missions on children’s day, $27.00; volumes in library, 198; amount received for library, $9.92; number added to the church from Sunday school in 1900, 16.
Our school has started this year with the same officers and teachers as last year. All harmonious and in good working order; and we hope yet to accomplish much work for the blessed Master and the salvation of sinners. "E. G. Kingsley, Supt."
From this church and Sunday school have gone out earnest Christian workers. Barnard Wood, Cyrus Hurlbert and Cyrus Allen early in its history became preachers of Christ’s gospel. In 1850 A. Sidney Hale was converted, at the age of seventeen, and joined the church. His intelligence and spiritual worth were so manifest that in 1855 the church licensed him to preach the gospel. He entered Bethany College, W. Va., in September of the same year, and graduated with honors in July 1858, receiving the degree of A. B., and ten years later the degree of A. M. from his Alma Mater. He was ordained by Alexander Campbell and other members of the faculty before leaving Bethany. He entered the ministry at Braddock, Pa., but resigned in a few months to accept a call to the pastorate in his native town, which continued four years. During this ministry over fifty were added to the church. He remained in the pastorate twenty-four years at different places in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan. Was at Grand Rapids, Mich., two and one-half years as State Evangelist. In 1886 he returned to Angola, Ind., where he edited a weekly newspaper, "The Steuben Republican," preaching as opportunity offered.
He died at Angola, Ind., Dec. 28, 1889, leaving as a legacy to the thousands who knew and loved him the example of a spotless life filled with noble deeds, and an earnest endeavor to assist those who came under his influence to become Christ-like in character and life.
Henry, son of J. Lawrence Gerould, in his early young manhood attended, for several summers, a Sunday school held in a school house on Sunday afternoons in the north part of the town, superintended by Deacon Samuel Farwell. In this school he became so much interested in the work that when he was converted in 1847, at eighteen years of age, he was one of the first to urge the organization of a school in his church in 1850. While on a visit to his native town in 1863, he was instrumental in the decision to continue it through the winter. He graduated from a medical college in Hudson, Ohio, in 1864, settled in Bedford, Ohio, where he organized the first Sunday school in the Bedford church, and served as superintendent. So great was his zeal and self-sacrifice, that he would start out on his professional calls at four o’clock in the morning that he might return in time to serve as superintendent. In the State Missionary Conventions his voice was heard urging more efficient work in the Sunday schools. He organized the Sunday School Associations of Ohio and Indiana. His zeal in missionary work was no less conspicuous. He gave generously for the endowment of Hiram College, and at a cost of $6,000, founded at Hiram the Gerould Missionary Cottage, where young ladies preparing for the Home, or foreign missionary fields, and the children of missionaries are received free of charge. He also supported a missionary on the foreign field. He died in Cleveland, Ohio, November 10, 1900. He lived beloved and died lamented.
Galen, son of Merrit Wood, was born in Smithfield, May 4, 1852. He was the first convert under the ministry of Rev. B S. Dean, and baptized at the age of eighteen. He chose the ministry as his life work. He graduated from Bethany College, West Virginia, in 1876, and from Hiram College, Ohio, in 1877. He accepted a call to Leroy, Bradford Co., Pa., where he was ordained and remained three years. In the summer of 1883 he was called by the C. W. B. M. to take up mission work in Montana, which he accepted and commenced his labors in the autumn at Deer Lodge, Mon., and remained three years. He superintended the building of the new Church of Christ in that city. At the same time he labored at Anaconda, a mining camp near, and built there a chapel. Next he was stationed at Butte City, Montana, a great mining center. There he secured an organization and a good congregation. The C. W. B. M. wishing to erect a chapel as a monument to the memory of Mrs. Shortledge, the national treasurer of the society, located it a Butte City and assigned him the superintendency of its building, a work which he accomplished. His next call was to Ogden, Utah, amidst the influence and atmosphere of Mormonism. There his voice failed him entirely for a time, and he was compelled to abandon preaching. He removed to Cripple Creek, Colorado, where he engaged in other pursuits in connection with church work until the spring of 1900, when as manager of an exploring party of 150 he gook a voyage to Cape Nome, Alaska. On board the outgoing steamer, with its hundreds of human freight, he was asked to act as chaplain of the vessel, which he consented to do. His sermons there were published through the papers down the coast as far as San Francisco and inland to Denver. At Cape Nome he received an urgent call from the Presbyterians to take charge of their mission and chapel work. Previous engagements prevented full acceptance, but he cheerfully complied as far as time would permit. A Presbyterian brother laboring there, kindly says of him: "Of all in the territory, he is rated but as second in pulpit and pastoral ability." In 1901 he returned to take charge of a church in Seattle, Washington.
Owen Campbell, first a scholar, then a teacher in this school, has been a faithful Sunday school worker wherever he has lived. Removing to Peale, Clearfield Co., Pa., he found a field for missionary labor among the mining people. Neither church nor Sunday school existed there. He gathered the children together in a Sunday school and when they had become interested he said to them: "Now ask your papas and mamas to come." Some came and were soon so interested they became Christians and active workers. A home missionary of the Presbyterian church was sent to them occasionally, and after fifteen years of earnest consecrated work by Mr. Campbell as Sunday school superintendent, teacher and organist, a church of sixty members was organized, ninety-five per cent of whom had been converted in his school and have become active Christian workers. Who can estimate the good done or souls saved through the influence of that one Christian layman?
In 1837, Samuel Niles moved with his family from Halifax, Vt., to Smithfield. His oldest child, Nancy L. Niles, had been in a Sunday school in Vermont and brought with her her question book and other Sunday school books. Living too far from the village to attend the nine o’clock morning school at the Congregational church, her child heart so mourned the loss of Sunday school instruction that in 1840, at twelve years of age, she said to her younger sisters and brothers, "Let us have a Sunday school," and taking her question book and their Testaments they went on Sunday afternoon to the hay wagon in their father’s barn and studied a Sunday school lesson; she asking the questions from the book, they reading the answers from the testament. They did this two or three Sundays, when their mother, Mrs. Hannah M. Niles, said: "Children, you need not go to the barn; stay in the house and I will teach you." Gladly they invited Laura and Lovilla, two daughters of Deacon Stephen Califf, to join them. Mrs. John Chamberlain and her four children came, making a school of fourteen held in Mrs. Niles’ kitchen until late in the fall, with Mrs. Niles as teacher. That was the humble beginning of a school, the influence of which eternity alone will reveal.
The next summer, 1841, Samuel E. Miner, a brother of Mrs. Niles, and a college student preparing for the ministry, spent his vacation in town and had charge of the school, so increased in numbers as to be limited only by the size of her rooms, in the house now occupied by Mrs. Emerson Harris. Four summers the school was held there, until the school house was built upon the corner near Mr. Niles home, when it was ‘transferred to that in May, 1845, and continued eight summers longer, to the fall of 1852, under the leadership of Deacon Samuel Farwell, when it was closed, that the Sunday school work of the Baptist church might become strengthened at its center of influence in the village.
That was a remarkable school, both in numbers and influence. It was held at 5 o’clock P. M>, and sometimes numbered eighty or ninety persons. Many came who had attended the schools in the village, at 9 A. M. in the Congregational church and at the Baptist church at the noon hour. There were but two classes; the primary class of fifteen or twenty, taught by the writer of this article, met at half-past four, had their recitations from a "Child's Question Book," sometimes received a little card or paper, then sat quietly until the close of the school. At five o'clock the house would be literally filled-—crowded. A familiar hymn was sung (Sunday school singing books were not known then), a short prayer was offered, then Deacon Farwell asked the questions of the lesson from the Union Question Book. All the scholars, old and young, had an open Bible or Testament in their hands and answered the question as their turn came. Their first library consisted of fourteen volumes. Proud were those children as one of a family walked to the table to receive their book, as their family name was called. One question book and one library book for a family; but each one carried a Bible or Testament and became familiar with its teachings. Who can estimate the value of such instruction?
Nearly all the members of that school became members of our churches—and many prominent in Christian work. John L. Doty, mentioned elsewhere as giving his life to Christian work, was for years a scholar in that school, and was converted there. Henry Gerould, the earnest advocate of Sunday school and missionary work, in his own town and in Cleveland, Ohio; Charles Henry Phelps, always a lover of the Sunday school, and who became a Congregational minister, were in their early young manhood days constant attendants of that school.
SUNDAY SCHOOL WORK IN THE SOUTHEAST PART OF THE TOWN
We have endeavored to get as correct a list as possible of the schools outside of the village and the workers. For information in this part of the history we are largely indebted to Rev. Cyrus Hurlbut and Rev. S. Califf. The first Sunday school organized in what was then known as the Durfey district, was about the year 1850 or 1851, by Elder Theobald Miller, of the Christian church. It was sustained only one or two years. A library was purchased, which went into the new organization. In 1853 another school was organized by a Sunday school missionary, in what was then known as the Durfey school house (now called the Thomas) standing on the corner now owned by Enos W. Hubbard. Among those active in the organization were Dr. David Hill, Harry Durfey, Lyman King, Cyrus Hurlbut and S. A. Califf. It is impossible to tell who were the prime movers. Lyman King was chosen superintendent and David Hill librarian. The next year, 1854, Deacon Levi Scott was elected superintendent and was re-elected for several succeeding years. After about three years the school was moved into the Christian church, as more room was needed for the increasing members. How many years it remained there we have not been able to learn definitely. Rev. Cyrus Hurlbut says until after the close of the civil war. He adds; "In the next year after the organization of the school a successful protracted meeting was held by Elder C. B. Palmer, the pastor of the Christian church, assisted by Elder A. G. Hammon. The ground had been prepared for the meeting by the Sunday school and the converts were largely from its membership." Mr. Hurlburt was a teacher in the school and one year its superintendent. He also circulated the Child’s Paper and the American Messenger. Other names have been given as superintendents as follows: S. A. Califf, Albert O. Tracy, John W. Miller, Williams Hubbard and B. K. Gustin. Later the school was moved to what was then called the French district, now called Riggs. It was practically the same school, as it met the wants of the same families, and was conducted largely by the same persons. The exact date of removal is not known, nor have we a continuous list of superintendents. John W. Miller and Ira D. Northrup served in the early ‘70’s. The earliest record found is in 1873. In 1874 ninety-one scholars were enrolled. March 28, 1875, Rev. P. S. Everett, pastor of the Baptist church at Smithfield, was chosen superintendent, and remained one summer. In 1885 the school had been discontinued some years, when Rev. S. A. Califf got the people together, reorganized the school, having Williams Hubbard appointed superintendent. He served one or two years, then S. A. Califf several years, and Miss Polly Tracy three years. Since 1898 Alden Califf has had charge of the school. In 1887 and 1888 Deacon William Phelps, of the Congregational church of Smithfield rendered very great assistance in the singing and in teaching a large bible class. Rev. S. A. Califf writes: "It is quite impossible to do justice in this account to many, who as teachers or in other ways were helpful to the school. In its earlier years Mr. Arobel Tracy’s family rendered valuable help, and Deacon Levi Scott was a tower of strength to it. Mrs. Henry Wittig and Mrs. Jarvis Kelly are worthy of especial mention, also Mrs. Ben Denton, Annie Northrup, Maggie Gibson and Dora Case, for their helpful part as teachers and otherwise."
Mr. Califf pays this tribute to the school’s usefulness: "It has met in a measure the needs of many whose privileges for religious instruction were mostly limited to it. At first a sermon was read in connection with the school. The attendance has generally been very good, and quite commendable interest has been taken in the lessons. Quite a number of the pupils have become members of the churches, and far more good has been done than man can see or express in any way. Those laboring in the good work have felt that their labor in the Lord was not in vain.
In June, 1890, at the request of Lewis Wood, a Sunday school was organized in the school house on the turnpike, known as the Bullock school house. Mr. Wood gave the money to purchase supplies. Clayton F. Wilcox was chosen superintendent and continued such three years, when he was succeeded by G. G. Beach one year. John Cleveland one year, when Clayton Wilcox was re-elected two years. The school closed August 23, 1896.
In examining the records we find the names of Minnie Dubert, Mamie Cleveland, Edith Harkness and Jessie Bennett as secretaries. Those of Lewis Wood, John Cleveland, Frank Scott and Eugene Kingsley among the workers. It was held on Sabbath afternoon, after those in charge had attended divine service and Sunday school at the village. It provided instruction for some who could attend no other school, and was of profit to all. The highest number enrolled was fifty-eight, with a large average attendance.
Picnics and Fourth of July celebrations were among the means used to create interest and do good. One fall, at the request of the school, the pastors of the town preached for them alternately on Friday evenings. One visible good result of this school was the following: When Mr. Wilcox was asked by Mr. Wood to act as superintendent of the school he, thinking it only a foolish fancy of Mr. Wood that would soon be forgotten, replied "Oh yes." He was not a Christian, but in the school he soon became interested in the study of God’s word, and in August became a Christian and united with the Disciple church.
SCHOOLS IN OUTSIDE DISTRICTS
We have endeavored as far as possible to get a correct list of Sunday schools held in outside districts, with names of superintendents.
In the early fifties (50s) Benjamin P. Scott conducted a Sunday school at Keeler Hollow many years at 5 P. M., summers only. The school was continued later several years by John Chamberlin, Oren Scott, Dallas J. Pierce and Franklin Pierce.
In 1865 Rev. Mr. Crittenden, state organizer of Sunday schools, visited Smithfield and organized a school in Africa, Albert O. Scott, superintendent. The place was called Africa because of several colored families living there. The day was a bright, sunny one. Mr. Crittenden looking out upon the hill-sides and forests, glorious in the sunshine exclaimed, "Why not call this place Sunny Side?" It pleased the school, they immediately adopted the name, and it is still called Sunny Side. The school continued but one summer.
On Laurel Hill Sunday schools have been conducted by Alanson Tracy, Albert O. Tracy, J. E. Hills and Horace Keeler.
In the Arnold school house one summer by Horace Keeler. At Balsam Swamp by Franklin Pierce. Since 1890; by B. W. Havens three years; Edd Huff, J. E. Hills and Lillie Minier, each one year, and John Cleveland three years.
In 1893 (NOTE: question about date as it was typed 1983) Robert Ballard organized a Sunday school on Pleasant Hill, superintended one year by Albert O. Scott, later by Rev. S. A. Califf and Will Dibble.
In the Shill school house in the sixties and seventies schools have been superintended by Ira C. Northrop, Nathan Dickerson, Syvelon Hix, and in later years by Wm. P. Lane, James Kendall, Burr O. Smith and Develon Ross.
In 1888 or 1889 Francis Wood and Wm. Waldron conducted a Sunday school on the turnpike one summer.
All of these outside schools have been summer schools only.
July 4th, 1849, was a gala day with the Sunday schools of Smithfield. We do not know who first suggested the plan, but the Baptist church, Elder J. T. Cook, pastor, Deacon Samuel Farwell, superintendent Sunday school, Rev. C. C. Corss, pastor of Congregational church, Deacon Bulkley Tracy, superintendent Sunday school, and the Methodist Episcopal Sunday school of the turnpike, Truman M. Beach, superintendent, all united in a Fourth of July celebration. The Baptist church also invited Elder Levi Morse, pastor Baptist church in Athens, to be present with his school on condition that he would give an address. The entire community entered heartily into the plan. They met in the village at 10 A. M., the school from the turnpike in the Congregational church and the Athens school in the Baptist church. All were seated, classes in order with their teachers. At a given signal all marched in order to the common, where they were formed in line, and marched following the United States flag, each school with its flag or banner appropriately inscribed, to the grove on the farm of George Gerould just outside the village and near the present Baptist parsonage.
A platform and seats having been prepared, and a separate table for each school, they were quickly seated, and while the committees were arranging the dinner the children were entertained with music, prayer and song and short speeches. A bounteous dinner was served, of which, we remember, chicken pie, pyramid cake, strawberries and lemonade were abundant. After dinner and a social hour, they were again seated, when Elder Morse gave a most excellent address. Then followed a social time until the hour for departure. Not an accident or unpleasant incident occurred to mar the pleasure of the day, for firecrackers and whiskey bottles formed no part of the entertainment.
It did much toward cultivating the spirit of unity and good will in our churches, which, unfortunately, was not as prevalent then as now.
Union Sunday school picnics and entertainments have been of frequent occurrence since.
I cannot close this history without paying tribute to the mothers and sisters of the past and present generation who have so nobly fulfilled God’s plan when he created Eve "for a help-meet."
To the home-makers much is due for the spiritual life of our people. Mothers have inspired their sons to purity of life, to nobleness of character; have by precept and example and earnest prayer, led them to Christ. At great self sacrifice assisted in furnishing means of education, and imparted wise counsel all along life’s pathway. The sisters, though not called to fill public places, have been as intellectual and spiritual and performed their work in life equally as well as their brothers in the public schools, Sunday schools and the church. Our Women’s Missionary, Ladies’ Aid and Women’s Christian Temperance Union societies all speak their activities in every form of Christian work. Besides those mentioned as Sunday school superintendents there have been a host of teachers equally consecrated and useful. We mention a few: Fanny Andrus Bailey, a successful teacher, and after her removal to Jamestown, N. Y., for many years superintendent in the large Sunday school in the Methodist Episcopal church, was in the first graduating class of the Chautauqua circle course of study, and from its first organization active in the work of the W. C. T. U. Emma Tracy, a graduate of the Mt. Holyoke college, Mass., afterward of a medical school in the west. Cornelia Califf graduated from Dr. Dio Lewis’ school of gymnastics in Boston, Mass., afterward a successful teacher of gymnastics in many of our large schools including Vassar college and Chestnut Hill seminary in Philadelphia six years. Failing health as she was about to graduate from a medical school in Philadelphia, cut short what promised to be a career of usefulness. Jennie and Harriet, daughters of Laurence Gerould and granddaughters of Deacon Samuel Farwell, were graduates from Lewisburg university, and as the wives of Rev. George and Rev. John Ballentine, have filled positions of influence in both public schools, Sunday schools and the church. Bernice, daughter of Rev. George Ballentine (one of our girls) is at present writing preparing for the life of a missionary in foreign fields. We would be glad to name many others, but in God’s book of remembrance all are recorded. At the last day, when those books are opened in the light of eternity, they will be revealed, and will receive their reward. For all these blessings we are indebted to the Bible, Christ and His Gospel. That this imperfect sketch of the great blessings attending and resulting from the Sunday school work of Smithfield shall receive the divine approval and stimulate others to greater activity, and so redound to God’s glory and the salvation of souls, has been the constant prayer of (MRS.) N. L. BIRD
|Population of Smithfield in 1900||1,630|
|Membership of churches||724|
|Sunday school membership||526|
|Number of volumes in Sunday school libraries||843|
|Monies raised by the four churches for church and Sunday school expenses of all kinds in 1900||$2,165.67|
|Money given to foreign missions||$243.78|
|Money given to home missions||$49.66|
|Money given to other denominational societies in the four churches||$123.69|
|For India famine fund and Sayre hospital||$61.50|
|Home philanthropy in our own town||$300.50|
|Money raised and expended in temperance work by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union||$73.20|
NOTE: This book loaned to me by Kenneth and Docia Schill
Typed for Tri-County Website by Pat Smith Raymond