Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Chemung County NY
History of the Pine City Baptist Church & its Surroundings by Alice EDDY Oakes

This building was razed in 1964 at 109 years of age. 
It has been replaced by a newer brick church
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Written by Alice EDDY Oakes 1964
Submitted to Tri-Counties by Virgnia WHEELER McElroy
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Formatted & Published by Joyce M. Tice 2004
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1854-1964 By: . Alice EDDY Oakes

Pastors of Pine City Baptist Church from 1854 to 1964

Rev. T.S. Sheardown…….. April 1,1854 to September 22, 1860

Rev. Thomas Mitchel…….. November 3, 1860 to March 12, 1864

Rev. Darius Ford………… August 6, 1864 to May 4, 1884

Rev. Frank Martin………. June 30, 1885 to November 3, 1888

Rev. G.W. Abram…………February 2, 1889 to April 5, 1890

Rev. W.D. St. John………..June 22, 1890 to January 6, 1894

Rev. St. John came directly from college and was ordained in the Pine City Church.

Rev. Francis Sherer………..February 3, 1894 to March 5, 1898

Rev. Albert Stone …………April 2, 1898 to June 4, 1898

Rev. F.W. Huff…………….June 22, 1898 to July 5, 1902

Rev. G.H. Brainard……… September 6, 1902 to 1906, no month

Rev. L.C. Bennett………….1906 to 1906, no months recorded

Rev. G.M. Rowland……….July 3, 1907 to February 6, 1909

Rev. I.W. Ripley…………. July 17, 1909 to July 1914

Rev. Charles Henry……….January 9, 1915 to August 1918

Rev. James Taylor……… Fall of 1918 to September 1919

Rev. George Stanley……. Fall of 1919 to 1920

Student Harold Laughhead.. April 3, 1921. Cooks College. Only a few sermons. Licensed.

Rev. George Burroughs…. May 1921 to September 1932

Rev. Lee Ohrum…………..January 1, 1933 to February 10, 1935

Rev. Elwood Selleck………April 1, 1935 to October 30, 1940

Rev. L.M. Blackmer……….March 1, 1941 to November 1, 1952

Rev. J. Frank Dersham…….May 1, 1953 to February 1960

Rev. Eugene VanDeventer…February 1960 to October 1960, Supply

Rev. Robert Greaves……….October 1960


The town of Southport is located in the southwest corner of the county of Chemung, bordered by the Chemung River. The surface is mostly hilly with fertile land along the river and the creek flats. Seeley Creek enters the town from the south while many small streams flow into it; such as South, Bird, Mudlick and Dry Run,

It is at Dry Run that the hamlet of Pine Woods is located. The early settlers who came to Pine Woods were either with Gen. Sullivan when he came through and cleaned out the long house of the Seneca Tribe or were the children of those who marched.

Many of these pioneers were from either Sussex or Orange County, or from Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. Among them were Abner Hatfield in 1800, also the Seeley’s, John and Timothy Smith, and John Waeir. These men started to clear off land toward Pine Woods along the flat lands. Then came Charles and Walter Dense who settled on South Mountain, John Kelly of Kelly Hill, Patrick McNany and the Comfort’s of Christian Hollow. Then we find John Smith and the Marvin’s of Bird Creek. There were John Bower, Noah Tyler and Gardener families of Dutch Hill. Also the Breese Family and the McWhorter families. As to the McWhorter family, we find today a direct descendant, Vernet McWhorter, among our midst. It is to be remembered that the Church is indebted to the Breese Family for the Cemetery which is within sight of this Church.

John Fitzsimmons first came to Southport as a soldier under Sullivan, coming later as a settler and took up a farm at what is now the corner of Maple and Caton Avenues. Notre Dame School is on some of his land.

The most important industry of the early settlers was to clear off the land and build a home so mills were established in many parts of the town, the first of which was erected by Abraham Miller in 1798 and the site is now located in the Town of Ashland. Before 1803 James Seeley had built another on Seeley Creek, not far from the present village of Pine City. Later dozens of mills sprang up along the large streams and even the smaller creeks saw them, too. It was not an unusual sight to see as many as 200 or 300 loads of logs, one following another going to various mills. Thus, in a few years, the land was bare but this did not deter progress, for farms were then in order. Soon, framed buildings were erected, but as late as 1860, some were still living in their original home, the log cabin.

The first grist mill was the hollowed stump, fashioned the same as what the Indians used; but this gave way to a mill erected by David Griswold located where the Notre Dame School is now located. The water was brought from Seeley Creek by a hand shoveled (dug) canal, a distance of nearly a mile. By 1807 James Seeley had added a grist mill to his saw mill. Then followed mills at Webb Mills and South Creek just south of the present Bulkhead. The most widely known one was at Bulkhead built in 1877 and operated until 1960 when it was demolished to make way for the new four-lane highway.

Sheep were raised and a woolen mill was erected at Bulkhead by Silas Billins about 1820, but was later sold to Charles Evans and thousands of yards of woolen cloth was woven and hundreds of coverlets, some called them blankets, were made before the mill burned in 1877. Philo Jones came from Connecticut in 1817 and built a fulling and carding mill at Seeley Creek in 1829, operating it until 1848, when it passed into the hands of his brother, Simeon, who moved it to Bradford, Pennsylvania.

A plaster mill was built at Bulkhead which furnished ground limestone for plaster for the new framed houses that were being built. Some farmers even broad casted on their land to make better crops.

As lumbering declined, farming became the chief industry. A cannery was built near the corner of Bird Creek Road and the Plank Road to take care of some of the produce of the early farms but tobacco was the major crop along the Chemung River and Seeley Creek. A small tobacco factory was built at Webb Mills. A Tannery was built in 1852 by H. F. Well and R. Hammond near the bridge across Seeley Creek on the Plank Road. It did extensive business, employing 30 men yearly for a number of years.

Many farmers peddled their milk into Elmira. It was crude in comparison to today’s handling of milk. Then the milk was taken in large containers and dipped out into the housewife’s pitcher or basin as she wanted it. The word, bacteria , was unknown at that time. Other farmers preferred to take their milk to the Cheese Factory at Webb Mills. Those who owned woods made syrup and sugar in the spring so as to have a little ready cash. Cash in the early days was a scarce commodity.

Prior to 1848 roads were almost impassable at times, with deep ruts and holes. A company was formed and on March 6, 1848 a plank road was started , which extended from Lake Street through Southport, Bulkhead, Pine City, Webb Mills and on to the State Line. The road was doubled width made of hemlock planks, a distance of 13 miles. With the coming of the plank road, hotels and inns sprang up; also, toll gates. We found one was erected on Pennsylvania Avenue at Beecher Street, one at Pine City near Shappee’s store and one at Webb Mills. Good roads brought the stage coach into being, but with the coming of the railroad , the stage coach was soon out-moded. Work was begun January 1, 1853 for a line from Williamsport to Elmira. At first it was to go to Blossburg and to Corning for they were unfriendly in Elmira, but through the efforts of Gen. A. S. Diven the line was finally finished to Elmira August 1, 1854. This was known as the Erie. It did not stop in the borders of the Town of Southport, but hurried through , but the beloved “ Old Tioga” branch stopped where it crossed Seeley Creek Road. There was no station, only a siding for cars of supplies that could be taken off for nearby business. Mail for Southport was taken on and left. It was also convenient for passengers to get on and off, too. The only actual depot was at Wells Station now the “Old Depot Inn “ between Pine City and Webbs Mills.

It was through the efforts of I.V. Mapes, some time before 1880, that the name of Pine Woods was changed to the name of Pine City. He had tried fruitlessly to have the name of Merchantsville but it failed. Mr. Mapes died March 3, 1880.

With the coming of the steam cars the stage coach gave way, now we see the steam cars giving away to the bus and the automobile. For long distance traveling the aeroplane is taking over. Will the bus and car, too, pass from us as the others have?

Manufacturing was not an important factor in the Town of Southport as it is today. The American LaFrance, the Payne Iron Works and the Kellogg Bridge Company were in the town, but the city limits of Elmira expanded and soon enclosed them. The expansion soon took in the Pennsylvania Rail Yards and Shops, which had been since 1867, an extensive enterprise. In 1935 the Morrow Plant was purchased by Elmira Industries, Inc. for Remington Rand. Many citizens gave money which made the purchase possible, thus giving work to people during or effected by the depression which began in 1930. The Remington Rand, division of the Sperry Rand, is another factory which extends over the City Line into the town.

One of the oldest businesses is the Minchar Co. on South Creek Road. It is called locally” mud mill” because years ago it used a clay found in two swamps just over the State Line. This clay was used to make water filters.

Today we find these industries in the Town of Southport: American LaFrance, Sperry Rand, Glider City Tool Co., Chapel’s Building Supply Co., The Hide and Tallow Co. Shappee’s Wholesale Meat Co., and many others.

The Town Hall of Southport, the Shopping Center, the Dixie Bowling Alleys, the three gas stations, The Hot-Dog-Burger Stand have replaced the old mill, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, store, post office and hotel. The hotel was erected in 1820, used, remodeled, and used until it was torn down in 1960 for the new highway. It was called the “Arlington.”

Pine City is situated at the junction of Dry Run Road and the once Plank Road, now a blacktop road. It is about a mile from the Wells Station on the Tioga Branch of the Erie Railroad which now has been abandoned. The old depot is now called “ The Old Depot Inn.” We can still see the old road bed to the south of the village.

In 1830 Charles Atkins, a cooper by trade, settled in Pine City or Pine Woods as it was known then for the country was covered with a dense forest. Some trees when cut would make four timbers 20 to 24 inches each when squared. He was the first one to make a permanent home. Mr. Atkins was soon followed by John Egbert who built a saw mill on Seeley Creek. After a time this deteriorated and another was built farther to the west.

The first hotel was built by Samuel Gornee in 1848 at the present site of Shepherd’s store today, and was known as the Pine Woods Hotel. This burned down the winter of 1854, but was rebuilt the spring of 1856 about 10 rods further to the east by Henry McKibbons. It changed hands many times until at last the Benjamin Miller’s came into possession of it. They ran it about three years when it was sold to G.H. Brees. This in turn finally burned.

Julia Miller, the daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Benjamin Miller, married Jeffrey Edsall. Their son Leland Edsall is a resident of this village today and helped with the memories of this town.

On October 13, 1874 Emmett Holmes became the first postmaster and mail was received twice a day by the way of Wells Station. The post office was in W.A. Whitley’s store which was at the time at the corner of Dry Run and the Plank Road. Later this building was moved across the road and is now the home of Mrs. Wagner and her son-in-law and her daughter, Mr. And Mrs. Richard Finch. The post office now owned by the government on land leased from the Aumick’s and Mrs. Aumick is the post mistress, 1964.

In 1882 Emmett Holmes built an addition to a house directly across the road from the Brees place, this was known as the Plank Road Hotel. He lived about a year after he had finished it. It then passed into the hands of William Benson,, who continued business about four years. A.A. Updike was the next, to be followed by O. Burlew. Today all traces of the hotel are gone but the barn is still there, remodeled into a house and is the home of Richard (Doc) Morrell. The hotel, itself, was situated on the land owned today by Leon Andrews and Elmer Terwilliger.

Lewis and Graves erected a store on the corner of Dry Run Road and the main road where the Whitley store had been. On August 7, 1886, C.E. Wilson bought the property and kept store for a while, then sold it to George Wilson and Son, January 1, 1891. Eventually this too, became the property of Mr. Morrell. For a time he used it as an apartment house, but that in turn gave way to the present parking lot for his garage.

Austin Edsall came to Pine City April 17, 1871, built a house and engaged in the butcher business, peddling the meat into Elmira. The slaughter house was back of the house near the hill. This property was owned at one time by Allen Sherman and was purchased by Willard Oakes, November 1947. This little house was converted into a dwelling, but in about 1959, it was sold to Mr. Crandall for a storehouse for small tools and supplies. About 1956 Mr. Crandall purchased the big barn that was just back of the main house, but in 1957 it burned. Today a concrete building stands in its place. Mr. Crandall is a well driller. The concrete building is used for his office and pipe-cutting machines.

There was a wagon shop where Mr. Paul Bates’ barn is now, owned by Hiram Seeley, in fact it is part of the barn.

We find that the oldest shingled house in Pine City is now the Emily Swartwood house. It is the second house from the school house. Next oldest is the home of Mrs. Melissa Collings. Once upon a time, a log cabin stood on the site of Arthur LaComb residence. The little front room of the Wagner-Finch home was a millinery store owned by a Miss Van Etta and attached to Mr. Whitley’s store. The first blacksmith shop was located where Mrs. Pearl Swingle lives now and converted into a house. Mr. Bush then went to the Learned building beside Dry Run Road and Creek, and did business for many years. Mark Baker owned the building and his son now lives near Fitch’s Bridge.

In 1890 the population of Pine City was 390, but it has grown with the years and one finds many new homes and many new streets. This growth necessitated a fire department of their own. On December 7, 1933, residents of Pine City held a meeting to establish a Fire District. A second hand fire engine was purchased. With this equipment the volunteer company had something to work with. In 1944, a Chevrolet truck was purchased and rebuilt with a 400 gallon pump. In 1948, a 1943, 4-wheel drive truck was obtained. It was incorporated in 1951. Then in 1953 a brand new Ford truck with an American LaFrance 750-gallon pumper with a 500 gallon tank on it. In 1958, a 1947 White tank truck with 2000- gallon was purchased. The latest pride of the company is a 1964 American LaFrance 1000- gallon pumper with a 500 gallon tank. In 1963, 13 acres were added to the property. A fire Station was built in 1951. There was also a Ladies Auxiliary formed. Pine City also has a 70 piece band., mostly young folks. Paul Brown is the present chief. There are also fire companies in Webbs Mills and Southport. The Southport Fire Co. was organized in 1943 but did not assume active duty until 1952. They then built a fire house, but this they have out-grown and in 1964 built a new brick one.

Many schools were established in the town, but very few records are available today. The first school in Pine City was built some time before 1864. It was situated about half way between the present and the creek. Later it was abandoned and another wooden one was built nearer the road. It was just a little one roomed building. It was heated by a squared box stove set near the middle of the room. Those sitting near were too hot while those in the back of the room were too cold. The school population in 1890 was 25, one teacher a Miss Minnie Moffett. By 1956 the school population had grown to 70 and the old Odd Fellows Hall had to be used requiring two teachers. In 1957 the districts of Southport consolidated with the Elmira system and all the children over the sixth grade are transported into the City by bus to various schools. Anew school was built in Pine City which has 13 full time teachers and seven part-time teachers whose time is divided between both the city and Pine city. The part time teachers are: Physical Education Instructor, School Psychologist, Art, Music, Librarian, School Nurse, Guidance Teacher, two janitors and two for the cafeteria. Mr. Leroy Opelt is the present principal This beautiful red brick building is a far cry from the old one-room wooden one, heated by a wood-burning stove. Today the heat comes from gas furnaces. The children trudged to school, in the old days, both winter and summer. In winter wading in snow sometimes nearly to their waist. When they arrived at school the teacher had to be both mother and teacher and see that the wet clothing was put near the stove to dry, so that they might go home at night all dry and warm. Today the school is let out earlier and all, or almost all, ride a heated bus home to their door.

We will now turn to the spiritual side of the town. There were a number of churches in the town, but in the early period meetings were held in school houses. Traveling ministers or “circuit riders” held services in homes as well as the school house. The First Methodist Episcopal Society held their meetings in a chapel on the site of the old school house in Bulkhead. In 1855 a Methodist Church was erected in Webbs Mills. By this time the 1850’s had rolled around and the inhabitants of Pine City felt that they should have a church of their own. Up to this time those of the Baptist faith had driven into Elmira to worship at the First Baptist but felt it was too far to go, especially in winter with deep snow to fight.

A society was formed in 1853 and built a church which was dedicated in February, 1854, with Rev. T.S. Sheardown, conducting the service. The original cost was $2,200 but when all the work was done and ready to occupy, it was found that $1,100 was lacking. Three men of the church assumed the $1,100, thus, the church was free from debt. It was voted that the Society should be known as “The First Baptist Church of Pine Woods.” A membership of 62 at the time, the church was built but by the time it was dedicated three more came into the fold.. Rev. Sheardown was invited to become the pastor, at a salary of $400. He was to commence his duties April 1, 1854. It was also voted that David Howel serve as deacon and the trustees’ meeting should be the first Saturday in each month at 2 P.M. On June 3 the election of the three trustees took place. They were

David Howel, J. Brown, and B. Marsh. J.T. Learned was elected Church Clerk. Mr. Howel was Treasurer In 1855 sheds and stalls were erected and a fence was built across the front of the church property. The pastor and his wife, Esther, came from Watkins. Mrs. Sheardown died August 23, 1854. He resigned September 22, 1860. It was during his pastorate that the church grew in membership.

Rev. Thomas Mitchel came next and served the Church about four years. It was during his pastorate that the deed was given of the cemetery to the Church by the Brees family

Rev. Dr. Darius R. Ford came next. He was a professor at Elmira College, serving the church for twenty years. While he was pastor, he took some journeys to Europe and around the world. While he was gone, supply ministers served, among which was Dr. Cowles of Elmira College.

Then came Rev. Frank A. Martin who was ordained in 1885. He preached his last sermon in September, 1888. The church was without a pastor until January 1889 when Rev. G.W. Abrams came, but remained only one year and again they were without a pastor until June 22, 1890 when Rev. W.D. St. John was called. He came directly from college and was ordained August 26, 1890. At that time the membership had reached 84. He stayed four years and was then called to be pastor of the Southside Church. The trustees and deacons during his pastorate were: John Brown, Wm. McIntyre, Nathaniel Ellison, C.O. Havens and John Pellett. Sunday School numbered 75 with 9 teachers. W.D. Nichols was Sunday School Superintendent.

A small library was added at this time.

Then followed by Rev. Francis Sherer in 1894 and Rev. Albert Stone came in 1898. He stayed a short time ans they were again without a leader. In September 1898 Rev. De. Huff became the leader. He remained until 1902. By this time many improvements were made to both the church and parsonage. One of the beloved members died during his pastorate, the Deacon Brown and his wife , both within the short space of six weeks. Mr. Brown had been a deacon for 46 years and a Sunday School Superintendent for 20 years.

Then from 1903 to 1906 Rev. G.H. Brainard led the people. It was during his stay that gas was installed in the parsonage for lighting. He was followed by Rev. L.C. Bennett but he stayed a very short time. Then came Rev. Rowland in 1907. The new church parlors were added at this time. This addition had been a store located across the road and owned by James Veneer. The vestibule was added too, at the same time. A cement stepping stone at the side door to facilitate entering carriages.

In 1908 the Chemung River Association meeting was held at the Pine City Church, a renewal of faith came and did much to encourage the members.

From 1909 to 1913 Rev. I.W. Ripley was the leader. On January 1, 1910 it was resolved that Mr. Lewis Cassada, Mr. Jay Crandall and Mr. Wm. Eagan act as cemetery commissioners. It was during Mr. Ripley’s pastorate that the Christian Endeavor began to flourish. His pastorate was steady growth and prosperity.

Rev. |Charles Henry came next. He was a good Christian, giving much spiritual help to his flock, but his health was none to good and he was an elderly man. In 1917 Miss Henry, the pastor’s sister passed away. It was a great blow to Mr. Henry and she was sadly missed in the Sunday School for she was a hard worker. Late in 1918 Mr. Henry resigned and Rev. James Taylor came. He was a very young man. He stayed two years.

In 1921 Rev. George Burroughs came and in 1922 the Pine City Church was again host to the Chemung River Association. Mr. Burroughs’ stay lasted nearly twelve years. They were constructive and profitable years, too, with a gain in enrollment and Sunday School attendance. At this time much was done in missionary work. On February 18, 1921 some ladies met at the home of Mrs. Erie Sherman and formed a Missionary Reading Club to further the study of missions. Five meetings later on June 8, 1921, this circle organized into a regular society with five members. They were: Mrs. R.J. Powers, Mrs. Jay Wood, Mrs. Allen Sherman, Mrs. Erie Sherman and Mrs. H.A. Whitehead. Five months later they held a missionary banquet in the upstairs Sunday School rooms and tables were laid for 100 guests. The guest speaker was Mrs. A.H. Norton, wife of the President of Keuka College, Dr. Norton. A few years later the Ladies’ Aid and the Woman’s Missionary united and formed the present Woman’s Guild. They had two objects in view:1.) to help promote work financially and 2.) to study the Baptist Missionary work and give such aid as they could to Baptist Home and Foreign causes. The giving at first was only$30. But in ten years time it had risen to $300 then raised to the total of $500.

In August 1925 Mrs. Erie Sherman took her Sunday School class to Keuka College World Wide Guild House Party and at this time they organized into the World Wide Guild. This society lasted until the members became mothers and grandmothers, then it was decided to call it the Young Women’s Missionary Guild, later that, too, was changed to the Business and Professional Woman’s Guild.

It was on May 31, 1923, during Mr. Burroughs’ pastorate that the name of the church was changed from the “\first Baptist Church of Southport at Pine Woods” to the name we know now as the “Pine City Baptist Church.” \also during his pastorate several well-known missionaries came to the church to speak. They were: Miss Alma Clifford who started work among the Spanish speaking people of Chicago, then there was Miss Minnie Pound from India, Miss Minnie Argetsinger from China, Ester Palathios from Puerto Rico and Dr. Martha Gifford from Burma.

It was January 5, 1925, that a telephone was installed in the parsonage quote--For the use of the pastor to facilitate his work--unquote. About this same time a motion was made to set aside all the old rules of government and adopt a new set which had been presented to the congregation and passed. On April 22, 1926, a motion was made and carried that the Trustees tear down the east church sheds and build a suitable garage for the pastor. At the regular meeting on April 7, 1927 it was voted to put an extension light from the front of the church to the street, the money to be taken from the church treasury, and the committee in charge of the work to be: Archie Wood, Gordon Burroughs, and Mr. Wood.

A real outstanding event was the young man by the name of Harold Laughhead who felt the call of the ministry and was encouraged by the deacons of the church and while he was preparing for this work at Cook’s College, he preached many times in the Pine City Church. Everyone grew to know him so well that they called him their own.

Mr. Burroughs stayed nearly twelve years and saw such evangelists as Billy Sunday come to Elmira for six weeks. The people of Pine City turned out to hear him, and as a result many united with this church. On September 18, 1932, Mr. Burroughs asked to be released from his duties to take effect in six weeks. Thus a good man passed from their midst.

Mr. Lee Ohrum was called next and began his duties January 1, 1933. He stayed until February 10, 1935. It was during the Depression that he was pastor and they were hard years for all. It was during his stay that the church again joined the State Line Association in the Rev. Tom Carter evangelistic campaign held at Millerton, Pennsylvania. A number were added to the church roll.

In April 1935, Rev. Elwood Selleck became the new pastor. In 1936 the church again joined the State Line Association in a series of revival meetings with Jefferson Lowman as leader. These meetings were held in the Pine City Church. Then again in 1937 another series of revival came. This time Rev. Charles Young brought the word to Mr. Selleck’s flock and many new ones were baptized.

Just a short time before the 85th anniversary which came in May 1939, the church was redecorated and a new carpet was laid on the platform and before the pews. It was a great homecoming for many of the old friends who were there to enjoy it. Some had been away for many years.

Rev. Elwood Selleck resigned October 30, 1940, accepting a call to Warrensburg, New York. The time from the departure of Mr. Selleck and the coming of Rev. L.M. Blackmer was filled with supply ministers. Rev. Blackmer came from Camden, New York. He was a much older man having a broader field of experience. His sermons were scholarly and his quiet dignity deepened the spiritual lives of all. At this time great stress was put upon missionary work and giving steadily grew from $8 per month to $10 then on to $30 and up to $50. On special occasions it would reach to $70 or even $80.

During this time an urgent call came for funds to help rebuild the Alice B. Coleman Hall at the Mather School, Beaufort, North Carolina, which had been destroyed by fire. The Church gave $100 over and above our credited missionary giving. This was enough to furnish one dormitory room but at the same time our regular giving had reached $500. During Rev. Blackmer;’s pastorate other activities took place such as : the parsonage was modernized, a water system was installed and a new bath, a new furnace was installed in the church and an electric organ purchased. The church sanctuary was redecorated. There were received into the church by baptism 17, 56 by letter, making in all 73 total, but we lost 15 by death and 46 by letter thus we gained only 12 members.

It was during his pastorate that the dark clouds of war hung over our nation and countryside and many of our men were called into service of our country. With the coming of peace, home and church life had restored and they again took their places among us.

Rev. L.M. Blackmer retired from the ministry of the Pine City Baptist Church and also from active church duty November 1, 1952. During the period the church was without a pastor, supply ministers came, as well as laymen. Also, much redecorating was done to the parsonage.

On May 1, 1953, Rev. J. Frank Dersham came to us from Phelps, New York. Rev. Dursham had Sunday night services and also started Wednesday prayer meetings. A teenage girls’ missionary society, an active Fellowship club for young men and women of the parish was organized.

Repairs were in order and a gas heating system was installed in the Sunday School rooms at a cost of over $600. Rev. Tom Keegan came for a week of evangelistic services. Miss Martha Gifford who was a missionary doctor for 39 years in Burma was with the church for a Sunday morning service and showed slides in the evening.

In 1954 both the attendance and membership increased. The Young Adult Group had grown to 32 members and the Fellowship to 15.

The church was painted and repaired on the exterior in preparation for the 100th anniversary. The celebration was held October 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Former pastors, members and friends were invited to take part. It was an old home reunion.

In 1955 the calendar year was changed to conform with the other churches in the Association. Dr. E.J. Daniels of Orlando, Florida held tent meetings on the County Fairgrounds from July 12 to 31. Rev. Dersham was one of the chairmen.

At this time it came to the attention of the Trustees by Margaret McWhorter, a grand-daughter of the Brees’, that the little cemetery in the village belonged to the church. Rev. Dersham spent many days at the County Clerk’s office to verify the facts and when it was really established that the plot had been deeded to the church by the Brees Family September 12, 1863, things began to happen. At first the Boy Scouts tried to clean out the underbrush and trees, but it became evident that tools would have to be used. The men of the community came to help. John Smith spent several days working there. Earle Johnson furnished a truch to take old scrap iron from the lot. The iron being sold and the money added to the cemetery fund. George Carpenter furnished a tractor and gas to move the heavy material and to pull out the stumps of trees that had grown around the graves. He also furnished the hedge to replace the old American woven wire fence. In 1957 William Bennett located a small building near Fitch’s bridge which the young men of the church brought down and installed in the south corner of the cemetery for a tool shed. A new mower was purchased with money donated by persons who were interested, but it was completely worn out the first year due to the heavy use it was subjected to. Since then, various men, boys and even the girls have given generously of their time to the upkeep. Another project that was undertaken was the installing of eave troughs to the church.

It was felt by this time that the old church kitchen should have a new face lifting, so it was completely remodeled. A steel beam was put into the support of the upstairs and Leonard Zepp was hired to repair rhe center sill under the kitchen. Willard Oakes donated the time and install the new kitchen cupboards. New lights were installed by Richard Baker; he also installed or had charge of the installing of the new gas furnace on the ceiling of the new redecorated dining area and Fellowship room. Flush toilets were installed at the cost of $1,100.

In 1957 new sidewalks were laid. In 1958 a new baptistery was installed and there were 16 new members admitted into the church. It was also in the year 1957, that the walls of the Sunday School rooms were insulated and new wall board was put on the dining room walls. Palms were purchased for the sanctuary and the electrical wiring was improved and new outlets were added. Then in January of 1960 Rev. Dersham tendered his resignation and accepted a call to Olmsteadville, New York, North Chester, in the Lake George Association. He now belongs to the State Board.

Nine months passed before there was a regular pastor. In that interval Rev. Eugene VanDeventer ably supplied. It was also during this interval that the parsonage was entirely overhauled; a new hardwood floor was laid in three downstairs rooms, complete new bath fixtures were installed, new stair treads laid, paint for both inside and out was put on and the front porch was remodeled. In the church the downstairs Sunday School rooms were painted. The sanctuary was newly painted as well as the pews and floors. New shades were donated for the sanctuary. A loud speaker was installed in the late fall. and new drapes for the Sunday School rooms.

On October 8, 1960 Rev. Robert Greaves was ordained on the Pine City Baptist Church and became the pastor. He came from Windsor, New York. Attendance has more than doubled since his coming. In 1961 the upstairs rooms has a new ceilings put up and a coat of paint applied to the walls, partitions for two small rooms were put up and a layout for three others were made. The parsonage was rewired and a new water pump and pipes were installed and donated by Clarence Crandall. A new typewriter was purchased with a long carriage for bulletin use. The Women’s Guild purchased a new heavy-duty stove for the kitchen. Four chrome-engraved offering plates were purchased as well as a home communion service and one new tray of glasses.

Rev. Greaves has spent two weeks at Green Lakes studying and four girls went to summer camp and two ladies spent a weekend at Keuka. Bible school has been held for two weeks each year that Rev. Greaves has been here. All pledges were taken care of so there were some activities that were pure pleasure, such as swim nights and community suppers. In January 1962 a new Winter Piano was purchased.

Mr. Erie Sherman passed from us in 1962. He had been both deacon and trustee for a great number of years. He was greatly missed.

By 1963 the total membership had grown to 144 but at the beginning of 1964 the report showed 149. The custodian now receives $378. The Pastor’s salary, $3900, with utilities of $422.69 and car allowance of $250, making a total of $4572.69. All needs were met and a new church was discussed.

It is a far cry from the horse and buggy days with wood-burning stoves, cold floors and drafty walls and the pastor , having a salary of $400. Soon we’ll see a new edifice to replace this old landmark which has been here for over one hundred years. Many will grieve for they will remember when some loved one was laid to rest from this sacred house, others will think of a wedding, perhaps , others a revival meeting or a joyous occasion. Times change all things and progress takes over. May God in His wisdom watch and guide both the Pastors and the Flock for the next hundred years as He has in the last.

Dated: April 18, 1964

Alice Eddy Oakes.


the author gratefully acknowledges the following for the valuable help and information given in this paper:

Mr. And Mrs. Walter Monks, Joyce Wagner Finch, Mr. Leroy Opelt, who graciously gave the statistics of the Pine City Elementary School, to Richard (Doc) Morrell, to Arthur Baker, Curt Anderson, Carlton Jackson and Vernet McWhorter.

Further acknowledge the help of Mr. Leland Edsall which has been beyond comparison.

A special thanks to Rev. J. Dersham for the resume of his pastorate days in Pine City. To Edith ( Mrs. Erie ) Sherman for the use of her resume of the Pastors if the Church from 1853 to 1964. To Willard Oakes for his help in regards to the Fire Company of Pine City and gratitude must go to Rev. Robert Greaves for allowing the Author to use the Trustees’ minutes of the church, this includes the hundred years’ span.

The Author must not forget Constance Cole Minnman of New York City for allowing her the use of her “ Towner History of Chemung County.” .

And most of all to Miss Alma Oakes and Norma Oakes for retyping this paper.

Dated: April 18, 1964

Alice Eddy Oakes.

Chemung County NY

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 09/10/2004
By Joyce M. Tice

You are our welcome visitor 10 SEP 2004