Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Churches of the Tri-Counties Area
Chemung County NY
Erin Methodist Church, Chemung County NY
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Morning worship 9:45 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.

Guest speaker Rev. Warren Odem, Conference executive of Central New York Conference

Lunch and social hour 11:30 A.M. -12:30 A.M


Welcome Rev. Robert Clark



Introduction of oldest church member

History of church Debba Cornell

Introduction of ministers


Recognition and introduction of church members, who became ministers

History of the past one hundred years of our church Carol Vaughan

Introduction of District Superintendent, Rev. Vernon Lee

Musical selections Rev. Gene Callihan

Introduction of ministers





Sometime before the year of 1828, local preachers held meetings in Erin.Some of the preachers were John Greatsinger James Taylor, and Jacob Allington. About the year 1828 the Rev. Hiram Crane formed the first class.

In the year 1832, just ten years after the Town of Erin was formed, Cornelius Becker and his family came from Delaware County and settled on a farm in the Town of Erin. The farm is the same property Eva Becker Earl and R.V. Earl now live on. Mr. Becker was an active and dyed in the wool Methodist. Methodism grew by leaps and bounds. The first meetings were held in the Scotchtown School, which was a log building.They later moved their meeting place to the Rosekrans school house. This building was on the road from Erin to Swartwood, now known as N.Y.S.Route 223. The school was located at the intersection now known as Maple Drive.

After the death of Cornelius Becker, his son Garrett S. Becker and his wife kept up the work in the church and lived on the same farm. The meetings continued there for many years, and in December 1873, they held a meeting and elected a board of nine trustees in the name of the Simpson M.E. Church. The first trustees were G.S. Becker, A.H.Park, William H. Howe, Lewis Thomas, Harvey Houck, Byron Park, Norman Rosekrans, William H. Blauvelt, and Charles Baker.

On December 20, 1873 a meeting of the Trustees of the Simpson M.E. Church was held, this time at the house of James Hollenbeck in the Town of Erin. There was a board of Trustees organized. G.S. Becker was elected President and Charles Baker the clerk. This meeting started the ball rolling to build a church. A resolution was proposed to build the church within forty rods of the Rosekrans school house. That resolution was lost by one vote. Then it was the sense of the Board of Trustees that the church should be built in the Village of Erin. A resolution was made to that effect and was carried by one vote. At this same meeting another resolution was made to circulate a subscription paper to raisea sum of $3000 and that the subscriptions be binding after $2000 had been raised

There must have been several meetings held from then on but, there seems to be no record of them until April 6, 1874 when the board met at the J.H. Rodbourn store. There was a resolution made at that meeting that the indebtedness at the time of the letting of the contract for the building shall be limited to $500.00 above the amount of $2000 on the subscriptions. At the next meeting of the board it was resolved that the sketch drawn by Hayes in Rev. Bulls diary be adopted. A resolution was made and carried: the dimensions of the church shall be 34x60 and a corner tower to be in proportion with the church. There shall be two side aisles and one center aisle

The next meeting of the board was held at the house of Mr. John Davis on April 26, 1874. There were some changes made in the plans drawn by Mr. Hayes, such as the alter enlarged and the floor be of' 1 ½ inch hemlock instead of 1 inch white pine . The meeting was adjourned until the 2nd of May at 2 P.M. to receive sealed bids for the building of the church, to be let to the lowest responsible bidder.

At the May 2nd meeting there were four bids received.
They were as follows:

G. H. Humphy $3200.00

John Hadrill $2871.00

J.H. Rodbourn $2798.00

Trustees $2500.00

As there were no bids coming within a resolution passed at a former meeting the trustees reserved the right of holding the letting of the building in their own hands. The Trustees finally let the building to Joel Hamilton of Tioga County, this is if Mr.Hamilton could give satisfactory security for the said $2500. There were three Trustees appointed to act as a building committee. They were Wm. Howe, Harvey Houck, and G.S.Becker.

Later there seemed to be a disagreement with the contractor Hamilton and the board requested the return of the plans and specifications which he would not return. The board appointed a committee of G.S. Becker and Wm. Howe to seek legal authority to recover the said papers. The committee was to report to the board on May 20, 1874 at 6 P.M. in Rodbourns Store.

On May 20th, the committee made their report and was dismissed. The report stated that the only way they could get their plans back was througha law suite.

There were not any board records of what followed. Through other research it is learned that the contract was let to J.H. Rodbourn and John Hadsill for the sum of $2500.

The foundation was layed by Gorman, Robinson and Carpenter under the supervision of the building committee The building was completed by the contractor and I am sure much help was donated by the church members early in 1875 and on February 10, 1875 the church was dedicated.

The presiding minister was the Rev. P.J. Bull and presiding Elder Thomas Tounery. It must have been one of the most exciting and prosperous days of Erin. The original board elected at that historical meeting in the Rosekrans School House stayed on the job from the beginning to the end.

Just a note: The first W.C.T.U. was formed Feb. 26, 1889 with thirteen members and Miss H. D. Fox was the first president.


The history of the Erin Methodist Church is an exciting adventure story of the people who have worshipped here thru the years. It includes all the people of Erin for the church is an important part of the community. It also is an integral part of the community. It is also an integral part of Methodism as a whole. A record of our church’s history has been kept in the Conference Annuals of the Central New York District. This running record has made possible the checking of dates and events in the life of our church. We greatly appreciate that our District Superintendent, Vernon Lee, lent us his complete collection of Annuals.

We think we have problems! When the people of Erin gathered to worship God in a Methodist program in 1851, slavery was a burning issue. The Committee on Slavery of the Central N.Y. Conference "took a position of hostility against slavery, and prospectively made emancipation a test of membership:" (l) In 1856 it was voted to prevent any more slave holders becoming members of the church. What bravery it must have needed to take this stand.

Improvements in our church building have been made consistently through the years and the record shows our church has seldom had a debt. The original debt was paid off by 1891 and no substantial debt was again owed until 1962 when the organ was purchased. The church was first carpeted in 1894 when $106 was reported to have been spent "for carpeting, a new pulpit, and other repairs."

Some early pictures of the church showed there were two doors in the entrance. Helen Hall told that the one at the side from a driveway that ran along the side or the church back to the horse sheds. There was an ice house on one end of the sheds.

(1) Report On Slavery- July 27, 1855- Conf. held in New York Mills, Oneida County, July 28 – 31, 1855.

The men would cut ice from Byron Park’s pond on top of Swartwood Hill to fill the ice house.

The church bell was purchased in 1904 along with the bell for the Breesport Church, Mark Schuyler was pastor of both churches at the time. The bells were tolled usually in the early days, not rung. When someone in the community died, it was tolled once for each year of the person’s life. During WWII, a gong was rigged at the side of the bell so it could be hit with a wooden hammer for Civil Defense and fire alerts.

Mr. Simeon Fowler, a Civil War veteran, was church janitor for many years. Randy Earl thought he did the work free of charge.

Forty-four ministers have sheparded this congregation since the church was built. The honors of preaching the most years go to Horace Pittman. Bob Clark comes in for seconded honors for he has been here nearly seven years. We have never had a minister die while in service of our church but L. T. Pepper became too ill to carry on his duties in 1934, but he must have recovered, as he was reappointed the following year.

Revival meetings were held with Erin Methodists participating in 1888, 1891, 1910, 1912, and 1915. Rev. Fanning was minister for the 1915 revival. That year there was an evangelistic Crusade throughout the district. Eighty-five persons became probationers preparing for membership in the Erin Church, (possibly including the Breesport church) as a result of the Revival.

It would be important to mention that the records of the Erin Church in the annual Reports are sometimes mixed with other churches when one minister served two or more churches.

Our eldest member, Helen Hall, joined the church when she was 13. If it were 1901, as she is 87, the W.C.B. Turner was pastor according to the Annual Report for that year. She remembers a large group joining the church at that time including Annabelle Hollenbeck, Ethel Crandall Thomas, Clayton Rosenkrans and Lloyd Moulter. When these young folks joined the church, the Sunday School had a Home Department. Leaflets were purchased by the church. Mrs. Ethel Thomas, who is now 84, remembers driving her old horse, Kit, to the various homes and giving the people who did not come to Sunday School the leaflets and questioning them on the preceding weeks material. She had 19 members in her Home Department class.

A tobacco shed was given to the church by Jim Mitchell about 1908-1909. Randy Earl says it came from the Rodburn property, Chancy Rosenkrans (Mrs. Hummer’s father) and Lola McDowell’s father, Varnum McDowell, moved the shed to the church. They used a couple teams of horses. It was used for a kitchen. Water had to be carried and a wood stove was used but many dinners were prepared and served in that kitchen. It had a table in one corner where the school children were often served a mid-day meal for 15 cents. Dinners were served at noon in those days at the church.

The church was heated by a wood burning stove that was gotten from the Civil War Prisoner Camp in Elmira. The men of the church had wood cutting bees. Some land owner, like the McDowell’s on Park Station Road, would invite the men to come cut wood for the church. The ladies would gather at the farm house and cook dinner for the men. Before the furnace was put in the church, services were held in the class room in very cold weather.

The Ladies Aid and the Men’s Club during the 1920’s and 30’s worked hard to earn money but had lots of fun too. They put on dinners, ice cream socials, strawberry festivals and plays.

In 1930 it is recorded in the Conference Annual that $850 was spent lowering the ceiling and redecorating the sanctuary. There is a story behind these facts. Before Hitler made the swastika a thing of ill repute, it was a symbol of the Greek Cross. An active young adult Sunday School Class chose it for their name. The group worked hard to raise money, presenting plays in surrounding communities. They told no one of their goal and some church members were a bit annoyed that the class did not help meet church expenses with their money. When the class had about a thousand dollars raised, they announced their grand plan of sanctuary renovation. J. C. Hicks was minister at the time. Ray Thatcher and Cyrus McDowell did the carpentry work. Henry Miracle did a painting of Christ on the Cross. Lewis Toti did a painting of Christ with a Crown of Thorns. These artists were not Erin men but related to Eva Earl.

Much family life centered around the church before the era of rapid communication and transportation. Every Children’s Day was a great occasion with the children participating by reciting "pieces" and singing. Lola McDowell remembers the children making yards of daisy chains and decorating the church. Christmas was more of a church than home celebration in years gone by. Both churches in the village had a big Christmas tree and party. Most people attended both. Gifts were passed out by Santa Claus who was Merritt Rosekrans for many years.

In 1955 the Annual Conference reports $1500 spent on the Erin Church. My guess would be that this was when central heat was installed. $650 was spent the following year so again a large task must have undertaken or perhaps it was all the furnace project.

In 1967 when Bland Buddle was our minister, $2742 was spent. The prayers and hard work of Debba Cornell led to the building of the new kitchen. Milton Helpin of Pine Valley was contractor.

Another bit of local history revolves around the evergreen cross on the hillside in Erin. Ben Nichols planted the cross. He was Howard Nichol’s father. For many years the cross has been the site of an Easter Sunrise Service usually led by MYF groups. It often includes youths from surrounding communities.

The church organ was purchased while Alberta Callihan was pastor in 1964. It is a memorial to Gus Stannard, Mrs. Anna Blauvelt, Mrs. Ida Bixby, Mrs. Lola Neish, and Mr. Fred Rick.

Lighting of the church has gone through numerous changes. Originally, there were bracket lamps that burned kerosene. Later a gas generator was installed and gas was piped to lamps in the church and classroom. Then in later years, electricity was put in the church, probably about 1920.

The pastor’s salary may seem small to us as it was in the early days of the church, but money was hard to raise at that time. A Donation Party was held each fall when all the members brought farm produce to the pastor’s family. Singing and recitations, Bible reading and praying took place.

The parsonage was sold in 1973. It sold for $6500. The next year it caught fire and was badly damaged. Some church records came to light when damaged walls were torn down. After the fire it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Borden who are repairing it and putting an addition on the back.

New Pews were secured from the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elmira in 1973. New carpeting was put in about the same time. The entrance to the church has recently been repainted and a new light fixture installed.

Our sincere thanks to George Patterson for

the cover design and all the work of putting

this booklet together.

The Council on Ministries

Erin United Methodist Church

Chemung County NY

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 01 NOV 2003
By Joyce M. Tice
Email Joyce M .Tice

You are our welcome visitor 01 NOV 2003