Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The History of Montgomery Classis, R.C.A.
by W.N.P. Dailey,
Recorder Press, Amsterdam, NY 1916
To which is added sketches of Mohawk Valley men and events of early days, the Iroquois, Palatines, Indian Missions, Tryon County, committee of Safety, Sir Wm. Johnson, Joseph Brant, Arendt Van Curler, Gen. Herkimer, Reformed Church in America, Doctrine and Progress, Revolutionary Residences, Etc.


The town of Cicero, which is in the Onondaga County, ten miles from Syracuse, near South Bay, was formed in 1807. A Presbyterian church was organized here (1819) of which Rev. Jas. Shepard was the pastor and from which at the inception of the Reformed Dutch church work, members were received by letter. The first religious work done in the community was probably by the Dutch church, since Rev. Jacob Sickles while the pastor of the Kinderhook church (1801-1835) was sent by the Domestic Board to this community to arrange for gospel work. This was in September, 1803, and Sickles' destination was Fort Brewerton, four miles to the north of Cicero (then called "Cody's Corners"). But on the way he stopped at Trask's Tavern and services were held in Aaron Bellows' cooper shop. This place was about three miles south of Cicero. Services which resulted in the formation of the Dutch church had been held for some time in the village, the preaching being done by men of the Cayuga Classis as Yates of Chittenango, and Evans of Owasco, and Abeel of Geneva. Acting on the authority of Classis (Cayuga) the three mentioned met on November 12, 1835 and organized the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Cicero. There were thirty-one charter members, and these chose for the first consistory, Lot Hamilton, Peter Colyer, Henry Nobles, Elders, and Isaac Cody, Daniel Van Hoesen, Peter Dominic, Asher Smith, deacons.

At the organization a church was already in process of construction for conveyance was given March 5, 1836. For sometime Rev. William Evans supplied the pulpit, for which he was paid $35 monthly. His service was continued thro 1838. During 1839 a Rev. Oren Hyde supplied the pulpit. He lived at Fayetteville for thirty years. On November 29, 1840, Rev. Amos W. Seely, who later supplied Frankfort, came from the Hillsdale, N. Y. Presbyterian church to begin his pastorate, tho he was not installed until September 21, 1841. Mr. Seely did splendid work, his records being remarkable for their neatness and care. He remained five years. He died September 12, 1865, at Brooklyn, N. Y., after a retirement of ten years. Rev. William E. Turner, the pastor at Arcadia, supplied the pulpit and looked after the church during most of 1845. During 1846 and 1847, Rev. Truman Baldwin was the supply. At this time, tho the Board of Domestic Missions had aided the church, there was a movement to join the Onondaga Presbytery with the thot that a closer touch with a denomination that was strong in the vicinity, might relieve it of the financial distress. On the first Sunday of August, 1848, the Rev. John Liddell, who had just finished a decade of work in the Lodi church (cf), began to supply the pulpit and continued thro 1849. He died in 1850.

In November 1849, the Rev. N. DuBois Williamson came to the church, remaining thro May, 1850. After a number of other brief pastorates he became the pastor of the South Bend, Ind. church where he remained for a quarter-century. It was the home church of Vice-President Colfax. Mr. Williamson died September 12, 1896. Following him at Cicero was Rev. John DuBois (1850-1854) who came in July. A house belonging to Dr. Van Dyke was bought for a parsonage in 1851. Mr. DuBois died in 1884 while supplying Mamakating, N. Y. (cf Manheim). Rev. S. N. Robinson supplied the pulpit for the last four months of 1854, declining a call to the church. The pulpit was supplied thro 1856 by Mr. Robinson.

Rev. John Gray of Ghent was next called. He was a Scotchman, but his ministry was mostly in America (Cohoes, Schodack). He came to the church in the early part of 1856 and resigned after a year. He died in August, 1865. His first wife was a sister of Robert Morrison. Mr. and Mrs. Gray spent seven years in missionary work in Tartary. Later he was associated for some years with Czar Nicholas in educational work at St. Petersburg. On July 5, 1857, the Rev. F. Hebard began a year's supply of the pulpit. During the war there seems to have been no stated supply until Rev. G. W. Humpersly came in April, 1863, and remained two years. After his going another years of occasional supply ensues, when Rev. Levi Schell began to preach at Cicero, also serving Clay (Lutheran) nearby. The consistory seems to have held meetings about this time biennially. Rev. D. W. Lawrence supplied the pulpit for two years from April, 1874. No mention is made of the preacher after April, 1876, until 1879, when Rev. Jas. Edmondson (cf Mohawk) came and remained thro 1881. During 1881 and 1882, Rev. Maltbie D. Babcock, a member of the Syracuse Reformed Church, who was pursuing his studies at Auburn Seminary, supplied the pulpit.

Rev. H. A. Strail supplied the pulpit during 1883 and 1884, while attending Auburn, and for several years Auburn students continued to do the work at Cicero. He proved himself to be the right man in this critical history of the church, and was of inestimable help to the people. On October 5, 1882, the church was destroyed by fire. Rev. Evert Van Slyke, pastor of the Syracuse church led in a movement to help the people rebuild. In a week $1,500 had been raised, and the church decided to build a $3,000 edifice. The Utica church gave $100. The church Building Fund gave $1,000. Rev. Babcock gave $20. The Building Fund also gave $300 toward the parsonage. In 1888 Rev. B. E. Fake (Lutheran) supplied.

Rev. J. H. Enders, Synodical Missionary, began to look after the enterprise. Rev. Elmer E. Smith (Butte, Mont.) a student, supplied the church during 1890. During 1891 the church continued to be supplied by students and by Mr. Enders. Rev. Frederick W. Ruhl came to Cicero from Prattsville, N. Y. in 1891, toward the close of the year, and resigned to go to Manheim (cf) in May, 1892. Rev. A. J. Wilcox began now to supply the pulpit, and a Mr. Mason, after him (students), to be followed by Rev. Dr. Emmons in June, 1897, who remained until April, 1898. Rev. G. E. Harsh began a supply in the Fall of 1899 and continued thro the Spring of 1900. He is now a Lutheran pastor in Ohio.

Rev. Henry Smith was called in the Summer of 1901, and remained until May 11, 1902. Rev. John Erler of Highlands, N. J. was called in August, 1903, and served the church until the Fall of 1904. He is now in the Lutheran church at Rockwood, Pa. From this time on until the summer preaching of Mr. De Hollander in 1907, there was occasional preaching. Richard V. Curnow (Meshoppen, Pa.) of Auburn Seminary was asked to supply for a year, and was followed by Mr. Rippey, another Auburn student, for a second year. Mr. Spencer supplied during 1911. In the Fall of 1911, Rev. W. N. P. Dailey, having been appointed Classical Missionary, went to the field, supplied by pulpit for a while, and later the church called Rev. John A. De Hollander of Annville, Ky., who came on the field in June, 1912. Mr. De Hollander resigned April 1, 1915, and is in business at Irondequoit. Garrett De Motts (N.B. '16) supplied the pulpit during the summer of 1915. Jos. M. Spalt, a lay evangelist began work on the field November 1, 1915. Not far from Cicero is a settlement called Stone Arabia", the original settlers coming from Montgomery County. An Onondaga county History refers to the "Stone Arabia Reformed Dutch Church" in the town of Cicero.

Copyright 1998, -- 2003. Berry Enterprises. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.

Contents Introduction Links Home