Christ Reformed Congregation, Bearytown
From Diane Lerch Kurtz
"Manual of the Churches of Seneca County with sketches
of their pastors, 1895-96", compiled and published by the Courier
Printing Co., Seneca Falls, NY 1896.
Church at Bearytown, in the town of Fayette, is the oldest, existing
church organization in that. town. The earliest records of the
church, in the German language, mention that prior to 1809, in fact
in the early years of the century, German Evangelical Christians
(principally from Pennsylvania with a few foreign born Germans)
residents of the towns of Fayette and Romulus (now Varick)
occasionally enjoyed preaching services in school houses, barns or
private houses. The first pastor of whom information exists, serving
thus, as early as 1804, was Rev. Anthony Houtz, of Dryden, Tompkins
county, a clergyman of tbe German Reformed church of the United
States. It appears that he labored in this capacity among these
people, for several years. On December 26, 1809, the first attempt
at formal church organization was made at a meeting of German
Reformed and Lutheran residents held in the Burgh school house in
Fayette, at which meeting, John Gamber, Sr., of Romulus, presided,
and Jacob Frantz, William Reed,
John Pontius and
Bartholomew Hittle were chosen trustees. This meeting resolved to
erect a house of worship for use of the two denominations, and the
present church site, taken from the farm of Henry Singer in Fayette,
was chosen - there being then only three houses within the territory
of the present village of Bearytown. The first interment in the
church cemetery was made in 1810. The building committee chosen,
Stephen Frantz and Christian Ernsberger, proceeded to erect a log
church 22 by 28 feet at the northwest corner of the church lot. It
is not now positively known when this church was dedicated but as
the records show that the church constitution was adopted Jan. 7,
1813, it is believed that the church was then also dedicated and
opened for worship. A German weed-day school was taught in the
church building from time to time until after 1830. In the interval
from 1809 to 1821, the church was served for short terms of service
by different pastors, among whom the names of Rev. Lot Merkel and
Rev. George J. Wichterman are mentioned. In April, 1821,
Rev. Diedrich Willers
of the German Reformed Synod of the U.S. entered upon his pastorate
in this church, which continued without interruption to January 1,
1882, a period of sixty years and eight months, terminated by his
resignation. The present substantial stone structure of Christ
Church wa erected in 1823 and dedicated June 6, 1824. Its dimensions
are 45 feet by 35 feet and its cost about three thousand dollars.
The church building committee was John Gambee, Sr., Stephen Frantz,
John Kuney and Jacob Fatzinger. This committee was composed of
members of both the Lutheran and the Reformed churches, and the
church edifice was erected by the two congregations, and occupied by
them alternately, or by other mutually agreed upon arrangement,
until 1855. Since that date it has been used and maintained by the
Reformed congregation alone. Since 1855, there has been no Lutheran
pastor employed in Christ Church. In 1882, the church was
extensively repaired and remodeled and a stone tower and belfry
added. It was reopened for divine worship June 1, 1883, the
improvements costing about $6,000. It has a seating capacity of 250
persons. Upon the resignation of Rev. Diedrich Willers, D.D., the
congregation chose Rev. J.H. Hunsberger, of Findlay, Ohio, a member
of the Ohio Synod of the Reformed church as successor, who served as
pastor for six years to January 1, 1888, when his resignation took
effect. The present pastor of Christ Church, Rev. Geo. W. Kershner,
of Stroudsburg, PA, a member of the Eastern Synod of the Reformed
church in the U.S. entered upon his pastorate May 13, 1888. Th
church has a present membership of 101. The senior surviving rnember,
in 1895, Mrs. Elizabeth Shroyer of Fayette, having united with this
church by confirmation in June, 1824. A Sabbath school and
Christiain Endeavor Society are successfully maintained by the
congregation. The church is incorporated under the laws of this
State and has a board of nine trustees. The spirit council is called
the consistory, and is composed of four elders and four deacons with
List of members [in 1896]
Abbott, (Moyer) Pearl Mrs.
Abbott, L6rana Pearl Miss
Acker. R.Salome Mrs.
Acker, Mary E. Miss
Bachman, Margaret A. Mrs.
Bachman, (Frantz) E. A.Mrs.
Balliett, Nancy Mrs.
Balliett, Flora S Mrs.
Balliett, Eliza Mrs.
Balliett, Charles C.
Balliett, Pearl Mrs.
Bauer, Elizabeth Mrs.
Beary, EIiza A. Mrs.
Brown, Maggie S. Miss
Brown, Margaret Mrs.
Chase, Maria A. Mrs.
Countryman, (Kemmery) Jennie B. Mrs.
Deal (Brown), Maria Mrs.
Deal, George Peter
Deal, Sarah A. Mrs.
Deal, Aaron C.
Deal, Laura Mrs.
Deal, Polly Mrs.
Deal, Polly Miss
Deal, (Litzenberger) Sally Ann Mrs.
Disinger, Christina Mrs.
Frantz; Elizabeth Mrs.
Friedly, (Swartz) Maggie Mrs.
Garnet, Margaret Mrs.
Garnet, Charles E.
Garnet, Anna P. Miss
Goodman, Clarissa Mrs.
Goodman, Mary J. Miss
Hendricks, Melinda Mrs.
Kear, Sarah Mrs.
Kemmery, Sophia Mrs.
Kidd, (Balliett) Katie Mrs.
Kohler, Irene Mrs.
Kroninger, Rosa Mrs.
Kuney, Luella Miss
Kuney, Minnie Miss
Kuney (Swab) Margaret Mrs.
Lamhert, Bertha Mrs.
Landis, Sarah A. Mrs.
Lautenschlager, Susan Miss
Lorensten, Frances C. Mrs.
Moyer James H.
Moyer, Elizabeth A. Mrs.
Murray, ElIa Mrs.
Raymond, (Gambee) Lottie Mrs.
Reed, John S.
Reed, Caroline L. Mrs.
Ritter, R. William
Ritter, Martha A. Mrs.
Rothwell, Edward Wm.
Saegar, (Kemmery) Delly N. Mrs.
St.John,(Swartz) Jennie Mrs.
Sammel. Margaret Mrs.
Schaeffer, Laura Miss
Schaeffer, Priscilla Mrs.
Schaeffer, (Swartz) U. Mrs.
Schroyer, Elizabeth Mrs.
Shankwiler, Elizabeth Mrs.
Sheridan, Margaret Mrs.
Stahl, Mary Mrs.
Stahl, John Henry
Stahl, (Garnet) Susan Mrs.
Stahl, (Litzenberger) Mary J. Mrs.
Stofflet, Eliza A. Miss
Swartz, Catharine Mrs.
Townley, Eliza Mrs.
Waldron, Sally Mrs.
Yodder, Eliza Mrs.
Zellner, Mary A. Mrs.
ZelIner, Maggie Mrs.