Meadows - We Are the Church - 1850 - 2000
Founders Day 2000
FOUNDERS' DAY PROGRAM
FEBRUARY 13, 2000
WRITTEN BY CAROL BROTZMAN
NARRATORS: SANDY CAMPBELL, JESSI ELLIS, CRYSTAL HONS,
AND JANE MCGEE
FERRIS AND NANCY BENNETT: 'SKEET' AND NETA REPSHER
BENNETT CHILDREN: LEVI - CHRIS CAMP
MILES - CODY CAMP
MAHALA - ERICA HONS
OLIVE - CHEYANNA CAMP
CHARLES - HEATH DEGARAMO
MILES AND LIB BENNETT: DALE AND DONNA BENNETT
CHANDLER BIXBY: REV. BILL NELSON
EDMUND MARBAKER: 'SKEET' REPSHER
WAVIE AND CHET CULVER: CHARLOTTE AND MORRIS FASSETT
MARCUS AND SUSIE PICKETT: REV. BILL NELSON AND GWEN PICKETT
AARON CULVER: MORRIS FASSETT
LYMAN PICKETT: 'SKEET' REPSHER
PETER CLAPPER: CODY CAMP
JOEL AND JOEY CARTER: DALE AND DONNA BENNETT
FLORENCE PLACE BENNETT: GWEN PICKETT
GRACE BENNETT: DONNA BENNETT
REV. VAN STONE: REV. BILL NELSON
CHARLOTTE FASSETT PORTRAYS HERSELF
DONNA BENNETT PORTRAYS HERSELF
WOMEN OF THE CHURCH:
CHILDREN OF THE CHURCH:
Narrator (Jane): It is about 1833, Ferris and Nancy Black Bennett have moved from Spring Hill to Pike Township, Bradford County. They bought land from Mr. Mercur. Their intention was to make a home near the grove of white birch trees.
(Ferris and Nancy and kids walk in)
Ferris: This looks like a nice area to build. What do you think, Ma?
Nancy: There aren't any neighbors for the kids to get acquainted with.
Ferris: There will be soon.
Narrator (Sandy): The year is about 1838. Chandler Bixby and his wife, Urania, are arriving here from New York State. Chandler and Charles Bixby, lumbermen by trade, have just bought the Peter Guinip and Peter Lowery land warrants in Tuscarora Township. Their land borders the Bennett property. This is how a conversation between them might have gone.
(Ferris and Nancy talking to each other)
Ferris: I could have sworn I heard a tree fall. Nancy, did you hear anything?
Nancy: Yes, we don't usually hear anything but animals and kids.
Ferris: Want to take a walk and see?
Nancy: Levi and Mahala, will you watch the younger ones for a few minutes? D. D.'s still sleeping.
Miles: I want to go too.
Ferris: Okay. We've got neighbors. Hello there, we're the Bennett's. I'm Ferris and this is my wife, Nancy, and our son, Miles. He's just one of our seven children. We get number eight in October.
Chandler: I'm Chandler Bixby. Brother Charles and I bought 900 acres here to 'lumber off'. (Chandler to Nancy) My wife, Urania, will be happy to see you, Mrs. Bennett. She thought there would be no human civilization, not to mention women, out here to associate with. She had lots of lady friends up in Baltimore, New York, where we came from.
Chandler: (To Ferris) Charles, my son, and I have started to build a mill just down at the end of that body of water. We've dubbed it Beaver Meadow because there are so many beavers down there. We plan to build a house on the other side of the ravine as soon as we get the lumber Sawed. (Pause) I guess I'm going to have to lay boards down to make a road to Sesson, if that trail doesn't dry out. I have to get my lumber out to sell somehow.
Ferris: (Laughing) I guess we'll have to call it the Board Road.
Narrator (Jessi): Some time has passed. It is now about 1840. Chandler has clear-cut some of the land. He's ready to start selling it off. John and Harriet Clapper bought land from Chandler and his new partners, Cyrus McCarthy and Joseph P. Chamberlain. Their new land is just up from the meadow. The Clapper's finished paying for the land and had it transferred on June 8, 1848.
Narrator (Sandy): In the meantime, the James and Margaret French Culver family had arrived here about 1845. They bought land on the 'Board Road'. Joseph Marbaker and his wife, the former Susan Cottrell, and their children arrived from Burlington about 1849. They started their homestead on Fowler Hill, just over the hill from the Meadow. The people decided they needed a place to worship. They built a Meeting House, on what was originally the land of Chandler Bixby, down by that pond named 'Beaver Meadow'. This was in the summer of 1849. They had to make it a Union Church because there were too many families of different denominations. Chandler was Presbyterian; the Bennett's, Baptist; the Culvers, Congregationalists; and the Marbaker's, Wesleyan Methodist. The charter dated February 13, 185-, provided for all denominations to use the church equally.
Narrator (Crystal): The Whitney's came. They bought the land Chandler called home: his mill, and his house. Three years after the 1850 census, on May 9, 1853, William married Mahala Bennett, daughter of Ferris and Nancy Black Bennett. Rev. D. D. Gray, a Baptist minister, performed the ceremony. Chandler and his wife, Urania, had moved to Rushville.
Narrator (Jessi): The time is about 1868. The Civil War is over and most of our men have returned. This is a scene of what might have happened.
Miles Bennett: Lib, I'm going to be gone most of the day. Abram Clapper, Philander Hardy, John Clapper, Ed Marbaker, William Bradshaw, Almon Pickett, Aaron Culver, and I have to go to Towanda. We're going to the Bradford County Courthouse to record that Tuscarora and Rush Religious Compact that we set up about 1850. It has to be a legal document. The government might decide to tax us, if we don't.
Lib: Did you leave it just the way it was?
Miles: No, we made some revisions at the last meeting. No names have to be recorded. We just have to list some trustees. Besides Chandler Bixby, Amasa Fowler and others have left here. We can't take them off the list. They were an important part of the founding of the church. They can't sign for themselves if they aren't here.
Lib: That poor Theodore Clink never made it back from the war. He left those two children fatherless.
Miles: Ma, don't fuss. Their grandparents are taking good care of them. Don't worry; we'll probably be late getting back.
Lib: No need to worry. The kids and I will be just fine.
Narrator (Sandy): The time is now October 1, 1869. The local families of Miles Bennett and Edmund Marbaker were members of the Freewill Baptist Church in Silvara. Here is another scenario of how things might have gone.
Lib Bennett: Miles, remember we don't have a covenant meeting tonight in Silvara because of the dedication of the church at Beaver Meadow.
Miles Bennett: I don't see where adding a pulpit and a vestibule make that
much difference. (Pause) I'm going down to see if Ed and Thankful want to have Sabbath School at the Bishop Schoolhouse.
Lib: Maybe his brother, Joe, and his wife, Susan, will come too. They don't mind coming to Sabbath School.
Miles: Well, with the war over, the Wesleyan Methodists don't have much of a cause left since anti-slavery was the reason they organized.
Lib: Remember, they joined at the Beaver Meadow Church.
Narrator (Jane): It is now February 28, 1885. We will join a trustee's meeting here at Beaver Meadow. It's already in session. The following are present: Ed Marbaker, the Treasurer; Lyman Pickett, the Secretary; Joe Marbaker, R. J. Hall, Peter Clapper, Aaron Culver, and Miles Bennett. Nathan Cobb and James Sharer were absent. This is how it might have sounded.
Aaron Culver: Old business - about that problem we had at the last meeting of the boys entering the church. (Talking to Miles) I think we settled that pretty nicely, Miles, by opening the church one hour prior to the church service.
Miles Bennett: Yes, and the usage fee of $1.00 for their singing school will soon get us an organ.
Lyman Pickett: Miles, why did you call for another special meeting?
Miles Bennett: We have to get our finances caught up. Peter Clapper has not been paid anything for being sexton since 1858. We must settle up with him. The elders want all old business cleaned up.
Peter Clapper: I'm not too worried about it!
Ed Marbaker: That's 26 years; we can't have a bill that long. And we can still only pay $8.24.
Peter Clapper: That's enough. Matter closed.
Narrator (Crystal): By 1893, the congregation was growing. We just got 3 new members and many are on probation just waiting to join. There are 25 members in the Epworth league. The Church foundation needed to be secured better. Rev. Schofield recorded that we spent $125 to raise the church on a new concrete foundation and replace the flagstone out front. Henry Hitchcock and James Stone were the laborers on that project.
Narrator (Jessi): Time went on. The church became more and more Methodist. Marcus Pickett (Rev. Bill take a bow) was at the center of most of the activities here since the late 1880's. His wife, Susie, was the first Ladies Aid president when it was organized in 1887. We'll now sit in on a board meeting about 1911 or 1912.
(Group of men seated up front)
Marcus Pickett: We must get the steeple repaired. All agreed, say 'Aye' - All opposed, say 'Nay'.
(Group of men all say 'Aye')
Marcus Pickett: I'll hire Joel Carter.
Chet Culver: Marcus, What schedule are we on now for church?
Susie Pickett: I got that new bulletin Rev. McKelvey is putting out.It says July 21st; the service will be 10:30 at East Rush, 2:30 at Retta, and 7:30 at Rush. Next week, we'll be here at 2:30, 7:30 at State Road, and the morning service will be at Rush at 10:30. I hope that he continues the church bulletin. It's handy.
Wavie Culver: Don't forget it includes local events too. Like the Children's Day exercises we had June 30th. Now, on with business. I still don't think that it's right that Rush can have services every week when we have just about the same amount of people here. We should have services every week too.
Marcus Pickett: That's one reason we should consider going with the Camptown Charge.
Joey Carter: I thought they were going to close the State Road Church after Rev. Gorisse got them to build the new church at Rush.
Susie Pickett: The Bulletin says they're putting on a new roof.
Chet Culver: They only have summer services there. Why go to all that expense?
Narrator (Crystal): Somehow, while the steeple lay on the ground awaiting repairs at Beaver Meadows, it disappeared (allegedly stolen for firewood).
Narrator (Sandy): About 1918, Beaver Meadow left the Rush Charge to join the Camptown Methodist Charge. It doesn't appear that there are any other faiths practicing in the church at this time. This Methodist charge already had Herrickville, East Herrick, Keene Summit, Standing Stone, Lime Hill, and Camptown. That had to be one busy minister.
Narrator (Jessi): The year is 1920. The church was making improvements again - new windows. The larger ones in the sanctuary cost $50 apiece and were pledged by families. However, Mr. F. E. Belden disappeared and didn't pay for his window. This is a scenario of how a board meeting might have gone.
Chet Culver: We must get these windows paid for and installed.
Joey Carter: Let's take up a special collection for the Belden window. If that's not enough, Joel and I will pay the rest since he stayed with us.
Chet Culver: Problem solved. That's good of you.
Marcus Pickett: Are all the other windows paid for?
Chet Culver: Yes, and we even have enough money for the vestibule windows from the last Social.
Marcus Pickett: Can we get them installed before winter?
Chet Culver: If we all agree and with a little free labor, we can start the last week of July.
Wavie Culver: We can use the schoolhouse for church on July 25th, if we aren't done.
Marcus Pickett: Thanks, Wavie. If we can get the ladies to feed us so we don't have to stop for lunch breaks, I don't see why we can't be done in two weeks.
Narrator (Sandy): In 1940, Joey Clapper Carter - the Matriarch and Leader of the Sunday school, was retiring due to ill health. Ruth Culver, the new superintendent, and the kids threw Joey a real surprise party to show their appreciation.
(Donna Bennett and Gwen Pickett meet out in front of the rail)
Narrator (Jane): We now move on to 1948. The ladies are all stirred up.Mrs. Florence Place Bennett is encouraging the women to push the men to raise the church on a new foundation. They wanted a place to serve dinners. This is a scenario of how it might have gone.
Florence Place Ladies, bring the kids, dishpans, and spoons.
Bennett: Meet me here at the church on Saturday morning. We'll start the digging ourselves.
Grace Bennett: The men will soon get the idea we mean business.
They did mean business. We got a new foundation with a basement
to use as a community hall. During the next 30
years, the church continued on. Attendance dwindled as did the Sunday School which was held sporadically. Church services were held in homes in the winter to conserve fuel.
Narrator (Jessi): The scene is September 1978. We are at a board meeting with Rev Raymond Van Stone went something like this.
Rev. Van Stone: I suggest that we have a Sunday School. If this church is going to continue, we need to educate our children here; not at the Silvara Sunday School where at least seven of our children are attending.
(Donna Bennett and Charlotte Fassett look at each other)
Donna Bennett: I know Scott and Steve are going there. The Brotzman kids, Debbie Fassett, and Donny Repsher's two children.
Charlotte Fassett: That's a start. The Ladies Aid can donate the materials to start. I'm willing to try, if you are Donna.
Around Halloween, 1978, they would start a Sunday School with 2 classes.
They didn't know Carol and Beverly Brotzman would show up to help.
By the fall of 1979, after a successful summer bible school, the teachers
were Donna Bennett, Carol, Beverly, and Sue Brotzman. They had
four active classes and nearly 20 children. The church was growing again.
Narrator (Crystal): In 1981, we spent one year with the South Auburn Charge after leaving the Camptown Charge. At that time, we had our first woman minister, Rev. Ruth Carter Breitweiser. Her ancestors signed the 1850 charter. In 1982, the church members voted to become totally independent. The church continued to grow - new siding, new roof, the new Clapper steeple, and indoor plumbing. Today, we will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of our first church charter which was dated February 13, 185-. Thanks to Susan Marbaker's obituary, we know the church was built about the summer of 1849. Her obituary records her husband, Joseph, as a motivating factor in the building of the church. It states he lived to enjoy his farm here 50 years, and that the church at the nearby Beaver Meadow was built shortly after they purchased their farm at Fowler Hill in 1849.
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