History of the Old School Baptist Church


By Hylah Hasbrouck


Originally appeared in  the Warwick Advertiser, Warwick, N.Y. December 25, 1952

Transcribed by Sue Simonich & Adapted for the web by S. Gardner, Summer 2002

Republished with permission of the Warwick Advertiser



The Baptist denomination originated in England about 1612 when the first Baptist church was started in London. The group known as Separatists revived the ancient practice of immersion in living or running water which they held as essential to true believers in Baptist doctrines.


Encouraged by the Puritan movement, the denomination made rapid progress and people migrated to America with the desire for religious freedom of worship.  The first Baptist church was established in Providence Rhode Island, by Roger Williams who had been banished from Massachusetts colony because of his religious views.  At the outbreak of the Revolution, the Baptists numbered 100,000 of which number some were in Warwick having crossed the country from Connecticut.  A list of members in a record dated 1765 names the following: 


MEN – James Benedict, Elder Ebenezer Green, Timothy Wood, Gload Boatman, David Lobdel, Nathaniel Roe, Daniel Whitney, Philip Ketchum, Jonathan Weeks.  WOMEN- Mary Benedict, Abigail Weeks, Hannah Ketchum, Hannah Burt, Elizabeth Gerno, Phoebe Lobdel, Elizabeth Knapp Juni, Thankful Whitney.


A list of members in a record dating 1768 names the following :

MEN – Daniel Case, Charles Gillet, Stephen Amsbury, Ephrem Bennet,  WOMEN – Mary Case, Jemina Stanton, Hannah Rockwell, Elizabeth Cano, Nancy Sproul, Sarah Bennet.


It was not until the 1775 records that I find family names of today: 

MEN – Jacob Ricky, Ezra Sanford, Isaac Finch, Solomon Howell,  WOMEN – Mary Reynolds, Anne Sanford, Esther Sanford, Rebecca Hulse, Susannah Read, Elizabeth Jones.


These recorded names were the members of the church and did not include the large number who attended the services in the Old School Baptists Meeting House.  Many worthy souls were faithful attendants but felt they had not been called and were not good enough to take the vows of the church and be baptized.


The Articles of Faith contained in the records of the “Baptist Church of Christ in Warwick” October 1765, are:


  1. We acknowledge but one God as the only object of adoration, possessed of all possible perfections, yet believe in the Father, Son and Spirit, and that these three are one and the same in essence, equal in Power and Glory by whom the world was made.


  1. To contend for the faith once delivered to the Saints, that we may keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of Peace.


  1. To walk in Love, Peace and Harmony in the Fear of God.



  1. To hear each other’s burdens, to cleave and have fellowship one with another in all conditions as God in His Providence shall cast us into.


These and all other Duties we humbly submit  until those desiring to perform in the strength and by the help of Almighty God, whose we are and whom we desire to serve, and to whom be glory in the Church now and forever. Amen.


That fourth article “To bear one another’s burdens” has always been carried out in spirit and deed.  The Old School Baptist congregation has been noted to cleave together and to help in every possible way when one of the number is in trouble.  They believe and practice that charity begins at home.  Hence the church has never supported outside missionary work.  They do not urge or coax any one to join – it must be a free and voluntary offering of one’s self to unite with this Baptist congregation.


Another custom is the singing of hymns with no musical accompaniment.  They never had Sunday School, believing that children brought up in the church will learn from parents and the regular service. It was this lack of youthful training and the desire to have some musical instrument used, that made Ezra Sanford, a grandson of the first Ezra, withdraw and start the Calvary Baptist in town.  He gave generously to it, calling it his tenth child.


The minister of the Old school Baptist congregation is addressed as Elder, never Reverend.  They are licensed by a congregation.  If a man feels he has a gift to expound the Bible, he stands before a congregation and is given a text, on which he proceeds to preach a sermon.  No sermon is ever written and read, it must be an oral expression of inner guidance.  This may make the Elder’s sermon long and somewhat rambling, but it is always sincere.


Elder James Benedict of Ridgefield, Connecticut – First Pastor


Of Elders that Warwick has had, James Benedict was the first.  He came over from Stratfield, Conn., to visit friends who had settled in this wilderness.  He was asked to preach and held a service every day during the three weeks that he stayed.  After his return to Stratfield, the Warwick folks having been so well pleased with his preaching, sent word for him to return and stay. He was glad to do so, having run into difficulties with the Stratfield officials and lost his privilege to wear his high beaver hat as a reprimand. A long list of Elders followed. 


William L. Beebe – 19th century Pastor


On March 30, 1901, a meeting was held to mourn the death of their beloved pastor for twenty years, William L. Beebe.  I shall quote the minutes of that meeting and the Memorial message that was printed in the “Sign’s of the Times”, the denominational publication.


March 30, 1901

“The meeting was opened by singing and prayer, after which the minutes of the previous church meeting were called for but not being accessible for reading for approval of same was deferred to the April meeting.


After some remarks by the Moderator relative to the sad bereavement sustained by us in the decease of our beloved pastor, Elder William L. Beebe, a covenant meeting was engaged in and expressions were given by each member present.  Though heaviness and sorrow of heart affected all present, yet each felt it was good to be there, and the meeting adjourned with the understanding that each member, the Lord willing would be a regular attendant at these church meetings in the future.  (signed) John McConnell, Moderator and Clerk pro-tem”


A Memorial April 17, 1901


“In Sorrow we have to record the decease of our dearly beloved pastor, Elder William L. Beebe, he having been called to everlasting rest march 28, 1901. He was a pastor indeed to us and faithfully labored in our midst for nearly twenty years, and the fruits of that labor have been evident in the comfort, edification and up-building of us fall in our most holy faith.”


“In comforting them that mourn and in helping those who were in tribulation, he was specially gifted of the Lord.  His loving ministry will never be forgotten and we mourn his absence with sorrow inexpressible.  All those who knew him loved him but, we, his people under his watchful care, realized more than any his loving tender heartedness and likeness to the great Shepherd of the Sheep.”


“We mourn our loss but rejoice for him for it is better to depart and be with Christ. Our loss is his gain, and we wish to acknowledge our thankfulness to God for his wonderful goodness and mercy in blessing us so long with so precious a pastoral gift.”

”We extend to our sister church, Beulah of Brooks, Canada of which Elder Beebe was pastor, our heart felt sympathy in fellowship of sorrow for our mutual loss.”


“May the gospel of love which our pastor so unceasingly preached both in word and deed, abide and continue with us in the power of God unto salvation.”

Our future seems dark and discouraging but our trust is in God, the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth to make intercession for us.  Our God is immutable and in that he has been good and merciful to us in the past, we are confident of His faithfulness to never forsake us

Approved at last church meeting

M. Benedict, Clerk.”


Elder Lebbeus Lathrop


Another Elder was Elder Lebbeus Lathrop, the pastor when the present meeting house was dedicated.  This is what was written of him by a Dutch Reformer: “As there was no stated minister for the Dutch reformed Church, the people began to scatter and attend other churches, many attending the Baptist church which by this time had become quite a strong congregation.


Some of the most prominent families in this vicinity were either members or supporters in that congregation.  They had a minister preaching for them at that time by the name of Lathrop, an uneducated man but thought to be a good man who aimed to preach the gospel according to the principals of the Baptists doctrines.  He was sometimes quite a rambling preacher without much connection in his discourses and would often throw out harsh expressions calculated to disturb the feelings of those of other denominations.  But as he was such a pleasant and friend fellow out of the pulpit, people were disposed to overlook it.  The Baptist congregation being now the leading denomination in the village, began to consider the expediency of enlarging their meeting house or of building a new one.  Having made a purchase of land in the village from Richard Wisner which was the knoll where the Old School Baptist Meeting House now stands, it was thought advisable to build anew.  Accordingly, in the winter of 1809-10, preparations were made.  The new building was started in the spring of 1810 and finished a year later.  Benjamin Sayer, who died in 1874 said the first work he did for wages was to hue timber for this building, working from daylight to dark for fifty cents a day. The church was organized Oct. 19, 1765.


The first meeting house was built of logs and stood on what is now the corner of Galloway Road and Forester Avenue.  A burying ground was near it where Elder Benedict and his wife, Mary Blackman were buried.  Several years ago Alice Benedict Hulse felt some recognition should be made of this site.  She wrote to Benedict descendants and received enough money to have a bronze tablet made commemorating the memory of Elder Benedict and those buried there.  She found a boulder on the Will Layton farm to her liking and had it moved and set where it was thought the corner of the old meeting house had been. The State Historical Society did not accept the location and wording on the tablet, and a second one was placed in front of it.  From no marker on this historic spot, there are now two bronze plaques stated the same facts.


In the gallery of the present meeting house is a pew from the old one.  Sit on it and see if you could have stayed there for an hour’s sermon. Also up there are spittoons. Could the early fathers have found comfort and solace in a cud of tobacco tucked away in their cheeks?  What did the women folks have to ease them. Perhaps they had the foot warmers, the only source of heat in the building.


John M. Fought had come to Warwick from New York as a visitor and preacher.  He was an architect by profession. It was not unusual for a Baptist elder to have other means of making a living besides preaching.  Their salaries were voluntary contributions and often were paid, not in money, but produce from farm, mill and store.  Fought drew the plans for the new building.  People who know see a resemblance in it to St. Thomas Chapel on lower Broadway.  The shape of the windows and the gallery are very much alike.  The land was bought from Jeffrey Wisner and his wife, Hannah, for $300.  The building cost $7,000 and can seat 500 people.


The building was place on a knoll overlooking the village and had no houses between it and main Street.  On June 8, 1832 an indenture was drawn between James Burt, Jeffrey Wisner, Joel Wheeler and John Fought of Warwick, Orange County, New York, of the first part and James Burt Jeffrey Wisner and Nathaniel Jones, trustees of the Old School Baptist Church and Congregation of Warwick, and their successors in office, of the second part. 


Witnesseth: That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar (and the regards for the welfare of the congregation) lawful money of the United States of America, to them in hand paid by the said party of the second part at our before the ensealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledge have revised, released and quit-claimed, and by those present do revise, release and quit claim unto the said part of the second part and to their heirs and assigns forever, all that small parcel of land adjoining the meeting house grounds in the village of Warwick and which was formally purchased by them the parties of the first part as Trustees of said congregation of Richard Welling, deceased, which piece or parcel of land may be described as follows:  Beginning on the northerly side of the road leading from Doctor heron’s to Abraham Palmen’s, as a stone set in the ground on a corner south 81 degrees east two chains and 93 links from the northeast corner of said Heron’s kitchen and runs thence along the meeting house grounds north five degrees east two chains and two links to a corner of Jeffrey Wisner’s and Daniel Olmstead’s lots; Then along the line of said Olmstead’s and said Heron’s to the northerly side of said road; Thence along the same south 85 degrees east one chain and 25 links to the Beginning. Containing 15 square rods, be the same more or less.


James Burt

John Morris Foght

Joel Wheeler

Jeffrey Wisner


Moreau Barney, Notary.


The years passed.  People of other denominations came.  Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed came fro Bergen County, the latter being in the majority started their church.  Enough Methodists came to build a church home on Church street in which they worshipped until they built the present brick sanctuary.  By that time there were Catholics looking for a place to worship and the frame building left by the Methodists was bought by them and used until they built the picturesque church on south Street.  In the 1800’s many city folks came to Warwick for the summer. Many of these were Episcopalians and they wanted their own church.  With their help the few Episcopalians in town were able to build Christ Church on South Street.  Thus it was that the Old School Baptists congregation gradually drifted away, until there are now by three members, one of whom is an old lady of 86 who lives in Michigan.  In the winter of 1951 it became known that the trustees were considering what was to be done with the property when there were no more members. According to the law, the members could dispose of real estate property as t hey choose, they are not governed by any association.  But if they did not make some disposition of it, the state would take it over at the death of the last member. And the state having no sentimental reasons for keeping it would sell to the first good bidder. Already the trustees and Elder had been approached and offers made to use the site for a factory.  When certain members of the Historical Society heard of this, they said that must not happen.


At the spring annual meeting of the society the  proposition to take over the meeting house was made.  A special meeting was called for three weeks later and the society voted to assume the ownership  of this land mark of colonial Warwick.  It took several months of legal procedure for the transfer to be made.  But at the July 26th Open House Day, Mrs. Isaac Dolson, trustee and member, handed to Albert W. Buckbee, president and Lawrence Stage, treasurer of the Historical Society, the deed of ownership to the Old School Baptist meeting House with the understanding by all that it was to be kept as a place of worship by those who wanted it and that nothing would be done to it or in it to offend those who worshipped there.


The building was in need of repairs. Plans were made at once to raise money to do the most necessary ones before winter storms did any more damage.  A steeple jack from Newburgh came and removed the weather vane and put a covering of gold leaf on which he said should last many years.  The steeple was well painted, a dark red new roof was laid and the frames around the doors repaired and rebuilt so that they look like the original ones. Broken and cracked window panes, over 100 of them, were replaced and this spring the rest of the building was painted.  There was some discussion what to do with the blinds.   The lower blinds had been taken off many years before but the blinds still covered the upper half of the side windows and all the windows back of the pulpit. Records showed there had been no blinds at first so those that were left were removed and stored in safe place.  All agreed the opened windows are very attractive.  All of this work was closely supervised by the energetic president Albert Buckbee.  He and James Horton, the carpenter, think the steeple was added at a later date but no record has been found telling when.


The Old School Baptists congregation and meeting house have had their place in the history of Warwick.  There have been many changes during the 142 years of life.  The doors of the meeting house may open to new customs, to different events, but may it’s spire pointing heavenward always proclaim to the traveler whether he is coming from the north or south, east or west, that he is entering a village of law-abiding, God fearing people.


I shall close with a little verse entitled “Steeples’ by Joseph Auslander: 


I never pass a steeply by

But I must stop awhile and linger,

And catch my breath to see the sky

Take hold of Prayers tremendous finger

And lift my heart as high.

Heaven is surely not too far

To reach; any quiet town

Is in God’s keeping where you are.

You reach up; God reaches down

As steeples touch a star.




Old School Baptists: Members List


Originally Published in the Warwick Advertiser

Publication date unknown, probably in 1952

Clipping from the Minutes of the Historical Society of the Town of Warwick

Transcribed by Sue Simonich

Republished with permission of the Warwick Advertiser


The following names appear on the records for the years 1800-1810


MEN – Mathew Bennett, Silas Horton, Thadeus Dickson, Isaac Headges, Joseph Atwood, Jacob Riker, Joseph Haler, Thomas Stevens, James O’Daniel, John Paterson, Enose McDaniel, David Silsbee, Daniel Whitney, Henry Adwood, Samuel Simson, Asheur Thorp, Thomas Jones, Jonathan Knapp (died 1803), John Sutton, James Burt, John Bellyon, William House, John House, Jonathan House, Samuel Drew, John Silsbee, Morris Hudches, Robert Masters (died 1806), John Benedict, John Barns, Michael Sammons, John Folwer, Claudins Reynolds, Silas Reynolds, John Miller, Francis Miller, Oliver Vallon, Daniel Burt (died 1805), William Gold, AbijahWhitney.


WOMEN – Anna Wright, Abigal Bruster, Susanna Armstrong, Susanna Wisner, Mary Sandford, Mary Perry, Mary Patterson, Anna Walling, Juliana Bradley, Easter Veall, Easter Brigs, Mary Smith, Mary Rumsey, Mary Hall, Caty Sutton, Phebe Wisner, Experience Horton, Anna Teed, Anna Scott, Jemima Drake, Sarah Paddick, Dinah Wheeler, Azuba Shaler, Elizabeth O’Daniel (died 1812), Phebe Sayre, Juda Stevens, Phebe Teed (died 1817), Johanna Paterson, Fanny Teed, Phebe Teed Jr., Elizabeth Laten, Elizabeth Laten, Elizabeth Knapp, Lana Morehouse, Hannah Hawkins, Christiana Silsby, Anna Sanford, Johanna Burt (died 1810), Sarah Sanford, Mary Thorp, Sarah Armstrong, Anna Simpson, Sarah Baley.


The following names appear on the records for the years 1810-1820:

MEN – Reuben Kellem (died 1810), Joseph Loyd, Azriah Ketchum, Samuel Laten (died 1815), Nehemiah Finn, John Greathwaite, Abraham Chandler, William Coleman, Thomas Lawrence, James Dolson, Robert Lawrence, Benjamin Finn, Morris F. Whitney, Seth Marvin (died 1823), John Holly (died 1820), Uriah Raymond, John Hall, Jr., John, Nathaniel Clark, Hezekiah Mead, Conrad Sly (died 1813), Benjamin Twist, Daniel Sayres (died 1823), John Morris Fught, Henry Brass, Stephen Fairchild, Henry Wisner (died 1812), William Wright, Robery Hadly (died 1803), Moses Hadly, George Wood, Mathew Bennet, Silas Horton (died 1817), Thadius Dickson, Joseph Atwood, Jacob Riker, Joseph Shalor, Thomas Stevens, James O’Daniel, John Paterson, Enose McDaniel, Caleb Sears (Sayer), Robert Paterson, Willam House, Jeremiah Morehouse,

Richard Burr (died 1804), David Hawkens (died 1805), Peter Ratan, James Padick, John Cole, David Base (colored), Timothy Clark (died 1805), Lebens Lathrop (died 1805), Jeffrey Wisner, John VanderVort (died 1812), Benjamin Barney (died 1823), Anthony Bishop (died 1818).


WOMEN – Mary Bellyon, Mary Dickson, Ann Mead, Mary Drew, Elizabeth Whitney, Sarah McCann, Elizabeth Randolph, Salome Fairchild, Ann Wright, Susanna Armstrong, Mary Sanford, Mary Perry,  Ann Walling, Julianer Bradly (died 1815), Esther Veall (died 1811), Esther Brigs, M. Goble (Jacob’s wife), Mary Rumsey, Mary Bowers, Mary Hall, Caty Sutton, Deboins Bennett, Agnes Haycock, Lavina Decker, Rachel Babcock, Abigail Burt, Lanah Benedict, Abigal Benjamin, Mary Mead (died 1805), Martha Thompson, Hanah Benedict, Sarah Benedict, Mary Dunn, Jerusha Bennett, Roda Bennet (died 1807). Mary Miller, Phebe Miller, Elizabeth Rodgers, Sarah Rosh, Johanna Rowley, Sarah Hudches, Mary Benedict, Ann Burroughs, Unice Gee, Sarah Reynolds, Abigal Youmans, Mary Smith, Lydia Miller, Margaret Vallon. Dorothy Lancaster (died 109) Sarah Stephens, Mary Miller, Ann Wood, Julia Benjamin, Catherine Bonntain, Mary Phillips, Leah Martin, Mary Reynolds, Sarah Fought (died 1813), Prudence Caporn, Sarah Whitney.


Note from transcriptionist-

The names extracted from a the above record may contain redundancies, and inaccuracies as would be expected from a compilation of records of this kind  and age – the author was not likely acquainted with the names other than what she found in old records.  One place where I would like to point out an inaccuracy is in the Newberry name. Jemima Newberry should be in this list as an early member, as her father was Elder James Benedict, along with the names of her children. Also Sarah Brass is probably Sarah Bross whose maiden name was Roach, and who married Peter Bross.  When Peter Bross died, and Elder James Benedict was a widower, he married Sarah Bross.  This information comes from Florence Tate, Historian – Warwick Town & Village Historian.  Miss Tate did a search for me when I was trying to identify the “widow Bross of the Ramapo” who was Elder James Benedict’s third wife.



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