Chemung County NY
History of Tompkins, Schuyler, Chemung, Tioga 1879
Chapter 40
Chapter XL  - Educational & Religious
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1879 Four County History - Table of Contents
Typed for Tri-Counties by John Campbell
Formatted by Joyce M. Tice

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The Log School-house and the Pioneer School ma’am – The Graded Schools of 1877 and their Cost – The Church in the Wilderness and in the City – Pioneer Worshipers and their successors of the Last Quarter of the Nineteenth Century – The Chemung County Bible Society – The Chemung County Sunday-School Association.


Among the first things established by the first comers to the valley of the Chemung was the public school, an institution brought with the pioneers from their old homes in New England. The first one of those bulwarks of freedom established in the limits of the present county was probably in the present town of Chemung; but there was one taught by Miss Amelia Parkhurst, in the year 1793, in the present town of Horseheads, as will more fully and at large appear in the history of that town. See also town of Chemung and city of Elmira. Since then the public schools have passed through the various grades of development, from that supported by the rate-bill, excluding all but the children of those who could pay the teacher, upward to the free graded school, with its academic department, where the youths of the poorest in the land, if they possess the requisite intelligence and capacity, can graduate with high honors, thoroughly fitted for all practical life, and well advanced in the acquirements of a classical education.

The statistics of the year ending Sept. 30, 1877, of the public schools are as follows: There were 117 districts having school-houses in them in the county, and 14 joint districts where the house was in the adjoining county. The value of the school-houses, which were all frames, was placed at $62,793,* the sites being valued at $15,120. There were 7237 children of the school age in the county, and 5857 pupils attended the schools, which were taught 3681 weeks by 75 male and 183 female teachers; 4222 volumes in the libraries were valued at $1613; 3 private schools were taught, attended by 44 pupils. The resources of the school treasuries were as follows: Balance on hand, Sept. 30, 1876, $3039.89; amount received from the State appropriation, 1877, $19,907.84; amount received from taxes; 1877, $19,907.84; received for teachers’ board, $2473; received from other sources, $290.85; total resources, $41,409.85.

*Does not include school-houses in city of Elmira.

Disbursements: Paid teachers’ wages, $31,624.81; libraries, $184.53; apparatus, $78.75; school-houses, repairs, furniture, etc., $4169; all other incidental expenses, $3882.87; total expenditures, $39,939.96; balance on hand, Sept. 30, 1877, $1469.89.

The statistics for the city of Elmira for the year ending as above are as follows:
Balance on hand Oct. 1, 1876  
Received from taxes  
Received from all other sources  
Total Income  
Paid teachers’ wages  
Paid for libraries and apparatus  
Paid for sites
Paid for school-houses
Paid for repairs and insurance
Paid for all other improvements
Paid all other incidentals – fuel
Janitors’ services
Printing, etc
Salaries of superintendents
Total disbursements  
Balance, Oct. 1, 1877  

There were 6 males and 77 females employed as teachers; 5583 children resided in the city of the school age, and 4451 pupils attended the public schools, of which there were 7, which were in session 40 weeks each. The average number attending the school for the year was 3143. Of the school-houses 2 are frames and 7 brick, valued at $230,000, and the sites at $69,000; total value, $299,000. Four private schools were taught in the city, attended by 186 pupils.

The State appropriation for 1878† is $16,690.90; for teachers’ wages, on district quotas, 7038.90; according to number of children, $4712.47; according to average daily attendance, $4712.48; library money, $227.05.

† Does not include apportionment for city of Elmira, Some $14,500 additional.

The total amount of money raised by tax and received from the State, from 1836 to 1856, for school purposes, was as follows: Received from the State, $32,187.49; raised by tax, $74,672.49; total, $106,259.68. The amount received from the State for teachers’ wages, from 1857 to 1867 inclusive, was $12,108.69, and the amount paid into the State treasury for school purposes in the same time was $59,318.29.

From 1868, the first year of the free school system, to and including 1878, these amounts were as follows: received from the State, $271,144.69; paid to the State, $131,617.69. Total received from the State, 1836-78, $424,440.87; paid to the State, 1857-78, $190,935.98. Add to this last amount the amount raised by tax from 1836 to 1857 for schools, and we have the handsome amount of $265,008.47 raised in Chemung County for schools during its civil history, exclusive of the amount raised for building school-houses and sites in the county and city. The city tax of Elmira for the support of schools levied in 1877 amounted to $44,205.


An association under this name was organized in 1850 of the teachers and friends of education of the county as then limited (including the bulk of the present Schuyler County), and held institutes monthly at first, and later on, in 1854-55, quarterly in different parts of the county. The principal workers in this association were D.W.C. Curtis, now of Horseheads; H.B. Collins, Ferry, Converse, and Orrin Robinson, of Elmira; Barber and Hendricks, of Elmira; L.H. Gano, of Havana. In February, 1850, a large number of the teachers of Tompkins and Tioga Counties participated in the exercises. Mr. Curtis was for several years the secretary of the association, and its president in 1855. No records are, as far as we have been able to discover, extant, and the most we have been able to gather of its history is from Mr. Curtis’ memory and the files of the county newspapers.

Another association (or this one with another name), called the Chemung County Educational Society, was in active operation in 1854-55; but we have been unable to distinguish between the two societies, if they were two, or to learn more of the last-named institution.


On examination of the records of the present teachers’ association, no date of organization can be found.

June 3, 1876, the association met at the school-house in the village of Horseheads, and was called to order by the President, R.D. Eastman; R.P. Bush was appointed secretary pro tem. Previous to this record, 47 names appear on the list, but no indication of officers. R.D. Eastman was president, and A.M. Cortright secretary, according to the memory of Mr. Miles. At the annual meeting in August of the same year the following officers were elected, viz.: President, R.P. Bush, M.D., of Horseheads; Secretary and Treasurer, H.F. Niles, of Elmira; Vice-Presidents: B.W. Tice, Southport; Annie Palmer, Ashland; Thomas Brandfield, of Baldwin; H. Wickham, Big Flats; C. Sweet, Catlin; A.M. Cortright, Chemung; Carrie Searles, Elmira; Mary Rollins, Erie; Mrs. M.F. Tifft, Horseheads. Prof. Eastman served three years preceeding the election of Mr. Bush.


No sooner had the pioneers fairly rolled up the rude log cabins to shelter their wives and little ones from the inclemencies of the seasons than they turned their thoughts to the erection of an alter dedicated to the worship of the God of the wilderness as well as of the city. While the axes were yet ringing in the little clearings, scarcely large enough to admit the sunshine, the institutions of the pioneers, brought from their native States, were begun, the foundations laid, to be succeeded by a superstructure reaching in these latter days outward and upward in grand and generous proportions.

The first church formed in the limits of the present county of Chemung, which, too, was the first church west of Binghamton, in the southern tier of counties of New York, was a Baptist church, organized in the old town of Chemung, and now known as the Wellsburg Baptist Church. This pioneer congregation was duly organized on Sept. 2, 1789. For a detailed history of this church, see the history of Ashland township.

The second session of the Chemung Baptist Association was held at Chemung, Nov. 9, 1797, from the published minutes* of which the following extracts are made:

"Thursday, Nov.9, at 10 o’clock A.M.

"1st. Introductory sermon by Brother David Jayne, from Second Corinthians, fourth chapter and fifth verse.

"2d. After worship proceeded to business. David Jayne was chosen moderator, and Brother Salmon Agard clerk. Letters from the churches were read:

Churches. Ministers and Messengers.
Chemung Roswell Goff

Thomas Keeney†

Thaddous Bennett

Restored, 2; baptized, 61; Received by letter, 1; dismissed by letter, 2; excommunicated 4; Members, 91.
Romulus Nathaniel Sutton

Dismissed by letter, 1; excommunicated, 1; Number, 14.
Sanroobson Ephraim Sanford

Smith Mapes

Baptized, 2; dismissed by letter, 2; excommunicated, 2; Number of members, 21.
New Bedford David Jayne

Enos Canford

Joseph Smith

Ziba Miller

Baptized, 29; dismissed by letter, 12; excommunicated, 1; deceased, 1; Members, 31.
Braintrim Salmon Agard

Joseph Wheeler

Number of Members, 23.

* Furnished by Asa Parshall, Esq.

† Was a Revolutionary soldier and pensioner; died Jan. 10, 1870, aged eighty-eight years and eight months.

"Total restored, 2; baptized, 92; received by letter, 1; dismissed by letter, 17; excommunicated, 8; deceased, 1; total membership, 180.

"3d. Nathan Canfield, Joshua Wythe, and Nathaniel Halleck, transient members, are invited to take a seat with us.

"4th. The circular letter being prepared by Elder Ephraim Sandford being read, a committee was appointed to examine it; therefore appointed Elders David Jayne, Roswell Goff, Salmon Agard, and Brother Nathaniel Sutton.

"Adjourned till 10 o’clock to-morrow morning."

Elder Agard preached in the evening from Eph v.i., and the session of Friday was spent in discussion of certain questions raised by the constituent churches on the methods of admission to the churches, and also a question of morals. Elder Sandford preached Friday evening from 1 Tim. Iv. 18.

On Saturday morning the Association adopted the following:

"This Association lament to have occasion to call the attention of that part of Zion we represent, to another awful instance of departure from the faith once delivered to the saints. Mr. Peter Bainbridge, late a brother in the ministry, having, according to the example of Demas, loved this present world, and done things which are in open violation of the laws of Christ, -- as such we caution brethren of every denomination to be aware of him."

Elders Goff, Jayne, Sandford, Samuel Sturdevant, and Agard were appointed as supplies for destitute churches in Romulus, Ninth-town, Eighth-town, and Towanday,‡ and the dates of appointments fixed.

‡ Towanda, Pa.

The Assoication voted to meet the next year in the same place, on the first Wednesday of October; Elder Sandford to preach the introductory sermon at 10 o’clock, with Elder Goff as alternate. Brother William Brewster was put in charge of the printing of the minutes and their distribution to the churches.

The circular letter was read again and approved, and signed by the moderator and clerk, and appears at length in the minutes.

At the sixth session of the Association, held at Romulus, Oct. 27 and 28, 1802, the Chemung Church reported 55 members, Roswell Goff, pastor; Romulus, 68 members, Jehiel Wisner, pastor; New Bedford, 29 members, David Jayne, Pastor; Fredericktown, 33 members, Ephraim Sandford, pastor; Townada, 33 members, Thomas Smiley, pastor; Chenango, 42 members; Bath, 20 members, Amos Eagleston, pastor. Total membership, 280; baptized during the year, 21; received by letter, 3; dismissed by letter, 5; excommunicated, 8; deceased, 2.

The statistics of the census of 1875 make the following exhibit of the condition of the church numerically and financially:

Methodist Episcopal. – Organizations 14, edifices 14, sittings 6775, membership 1614, value of church property $197,000, annual salaries of clergy $10,125.

Baptist. – Organizations 11, edifices 11, sittings 4625, membership 1127, value of church property $93,500, annual salaries of clergy $7250.

Presbyterians. – Organizations 5, edifices 5, sittings 3250, membership 1256, value of church property $151,200, annual salaries of clergy $6400.

Protestant Episcopal. – Organizations 5, edifices 5, sittings 1680, membership 521, value of church property $109,100, annual salaries of clergy $6350.

Roman Catholic. – Organizations 5, edifices 5, sittings 3250, membership 3270, value of church property $127,400, annual amount of salaries of clergy $3850.

African Methodist Episcopal Zion. – Organization 1, 1 edifice, 600 sittings, value of church property $3500, salary of clergy $600.

Free-Will Baptist. – Organizations 4, edifices 4, sittings 1250, members 190, value of church property $8400, salaries of Clergy $800.

Jewish. – Organizations 1, edifices 1, sittings 200, membership 60-0, value church property $4000, salary of clergy $600.

Union. – Organizations 2, edifices 2, sittings 1410, membership 652, value church property $167,900, salaries of clergy $3050.

United Presbyterian. – Organization 1, 1 edifice, 600 sittings, value church property $3000, salary of clergy $600.

Total for the county. – Organizations 49, edifices 49, sittings 23,640, membership 8230, value of church edifices and lots $720,400, value of other real estate $84,700, annual salaries of clergy $39,625.


was organized in 1828 as the bible Society of the Western Jury District of Tioga County, and was recognized July 28 of that year as an auxiliary of the American Bible Society. The records of the society were burned in 1850, and a complete history cannot now be had of the society’s doings previous to that time. In 1835 the first canvass of the territory was made, and in 1839 the society was named the Chemung County Bible Society. In January of that year Simeon Benjamin was elected president of the society, and so remained until 1868. In 1840, Solomon L. Gillett was elected treasurer, and has filled the position to the present time, being the present incumbent. In 1846 the first colporteur of the American Tract Society canvassed the county, the same being Rev. Henry Ford. He visited 3589 families in 13 months, found 400 families destitute of the Scriptures, and supplied 385 families, and 400 families were not visited. In 1849 another canvas found 179 families destitute of the Scriptures. In 1857 another canvass was made. In 1862 the society distributed among the soldiers 5265 Bibles and Testaments, the work being chiefly done by the Young Men’s Christian Association. In 1869 the most thorough canvass of the county was made that has yet been done by the society, by Rev. Samuel Nichols. 2476 families were visited, 252 of which were found destitute of the Scriptures, 134 families and 48 individuals were supplied, 380 books being sold and donated. The total expense of the canvass was $359.93. This canvas was outside of the city, the latter being canvassed year by year by the Young Men’s Christian Association. Nov. 8, 1877, the society was reorganized, and an amended constitution adopted. The last canvass of the city was made in 1878; 3591 families were visited, 241 found destitute, 173 of whom and 21 individuals were supplied with the Scriptures; 40 books were sold, amounting to $28.43, and 176 donated, costing $74.37. Expenses of canvass, 78 days, $117. Revs. Jervis and Grandine were the canvassers. The presidents of the society have been as follows: 1835-39, Samuel Tuthill; 1839-68, Simeon Benjamin; 1869, Rev. Geo. C. Curtis; 1870-72, Rev. W.E. King; 1873-74, Rev. Thomas Toncey; 1875-76, David Decker; 1877-78, N.P. Fassett. Presnet Officers: President, N.P. Fassett; Vice-Presidents, Revs. S.T. Clark and E. Horr, Jr.; Secretary, Robert A. Hall; Treasurer, Solomon L. Gillett.


was organized about 1870, but has not been in active operation all of the time since then. A few institutes have been held, -- one very successful one in Elmira City, in the winter of 1878, and one good one at Horseheads in 1876. The principal workers of the Association are Professor Danforth, Colonel H.M. Smith, Asher Frost, John Brown, A.I. Decker. The present officers are Stephen Rose, President; A.I. Decker, Secretary and Treasurer.

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