Northrop Genealogy ~~~ Religious

early methodists

In the several decades after their arrival in the New England states in the late 1780s, Methodists were the objects of a wide variety of attacks, some of them mutually contradictory. (1) Their preachers were accused of being pickpockets, horse thieves, and sexual predators, while on the other hand some converts were mocked for their excessive moral seriousness. They were suspected alternatively of being agents of the English crown, spies for the French government, and Jeffersonian radicals. Further, to some it seemed that their episcopal form of government and ecclesiastical tribunals functioned as a sort of shadow government undermining the political institutions of the nation. They were attacked for their Arminian theology, in defense of which they vigorously condemned Calvinist doctrine. They were mocked as enthusiasts and fanatics whose preachers, pretending to an immediate divine calling, inflamed the passions of their listeners and whose gatherings degenerated into bedlams of disorder, confusion, and moral scandal. They were disturbers of churches, transgressing parochial boundaries, sowing disorder, and fracturing the covenant relationship between minister and flock, all of which recalled memories of the upheaval accompanying the awakenings of the 1740s. They were unlearned rustics not fit to instruct people in divinity, but they were also sly enough to worm their way into the hearts and minds of people by shrewdly hiding their true intentions and prejudicing their hearers against the standing ministers. In short, it is little exaggeration to say that they were "a sect which was everywhere spoken against." (2)

Words led to actions as opposition occasionally took the form of violence or threats of violence. The itinerant preacher Billy Hibbard reported that he had stones thrown at him and dogs set loose upon him. In addition, he narrowly, and in his view providentially, escaped a mob lying in wait for him in a swamp through which he was about to ride. (3) At Provincetown, Massachusetts, the town meeting denied the young Methodist society permission to build a house of worship. Undaunted, the Methodists proceeded to do so and collected a number of timbers in preparation for building. To prevent them from accomplishing their purpose, a "company of choice spirits" hauled away the timbers under cover of darkness and made a pile of the destroyed timbers, on top of which they placed effigies of the Methodists, tarred and feathered. (4) Abel Stevens, the chronicler of New England Methodism, recounted a story told to him by the preacher Asa Kent concerning resistance to the introduction of Methodism into the area around Lancaster, New Hampshire. After preaching one evening, a couple of local preachers were kidnapped by a mob and taken to a local tavern, where they were held while the mob worked themselves into predictably high spirits. After thus fortifying their courage, the men took one of the Methodist preachers, dragged him on his back across the frozen Connecticut River, and deposited him on the Vermont side, pronouncing good riddance to the Methodists. (5) Examples could be multiplied; the annals of early New England Methodism are filled with tales of incessant theological controversy, persecution, harassment, and mob violence.

Why did Methodists encounter such stiff opposition? What provoked the sort of suspicion and hostility they faced? The roots of the conflict lay in the fact that Methodists brought with them a conception of religion and of its relationship to society that was fundamentally at odds with the prevailing religious culture of New England. Methodists, exemplars of the quintessentially American style of religion characterized by voluntarism, democratic individualism, and an aggressive entrepreneurial sensibility, clashed sharply with a religious culture rooted in a geographical parish structure, framed by the mutual obligations of the covenant relationship between minister and congregation, and supported by state establishments, which persisted in New England well into the nineteenth century. (6) The logic behind establishment is telling: the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, for instance, mandated that the legislature should periodically authorize and require localities to make provision for public worship and for the support of "public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality" because "the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government depend essentially upon piety, religion and morality," which could only be provided by public worship and public religious instruction. (7) This was no dead letter. While it was true that the Constitution also guaranteed freedom of conscience and provided that taxes paid for the support of public religious instruction could be applied to the minister of the sect or denomination whose teaching one attended, there were obstacles to doing so. One such obstacle was that, at least until 1811, it was necessary for a preacher to be ordained over a single, legally incorporated congregation in order to recover his hearers' taxes, which meant that itinerant preachers such as the Methodists could be denied the ability to do so. (8) Furthermore, in interpreting the Constitution's provisions for religious establishment, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts maintained that it was not a violation of conscience to be required to pay taxes for the support of a public teacher of religion of another sect or denomination than one's own. Because religious instruction tended to the public good and promoted morality, peace, and civil order, everyone could be required to pay for the support of a minister, even if they did not attend his services or derive any direct benefit from religious instruction. On the same grounds, the real estate of a corporation could be taxed to support a religious teacher, despite the fact that the members of the corporation lived in another parish and were members of another denomination and despite the fact that a corporation had no soul to benefit from religious instruction. The corporation did benefit, the court argued, from the protection of its property deriving from the decrease in crime brought about by public religious instruction. At least from the perspective of the commonwealth, religion was a matter of the public good and not merely of individual spiritual benefit; as such, it warranted the financial support of the entire community. (9)

Such religious establishments, and the principles underlying them, were under assault in the decades following the American Revolution. Commentators on American religion from de Tocqueville forward have noted that the fifty years after the Revolution saw the triumph of the "voluntary principle" as a defining characteristic of American religious life. American religion, predicated on religious freedom and characterized by democratic, individualistic, and competitive impulses, had taken on a new form and style by the middle third of the nineteenth century. Resistance to Methodism in New England reveals that this transition did not take place without a good deal of friction and supports the conclusion that "the religious history of the early republic is anything but evolutionary and consensual." (10) In the minds of many New Englanders, Methodism, along with the voluntary principle it represented, was a fundamental threat to social order and community cohesion, lacking the ability to promote the moral virtue in the populace necessary to secure the new republic. The irony, of course, is that evangelical religion, expressed in the revivals and reform efforts of the era of the Second Great Awakening, provided just the kind of religious and moral energy that opponents of Methodism feared would be sorely lacking if disestablishment and voluntarism destroyed the established religious culture.

Nathan Hatch has argued that debates surrounding the principles of voluntarism and disestablishment were only one aspect of a larger story that was taking place in religious history of the early republic. Such controversies "paled before [the] fundamental debate about religious authority" roiling American Christianity between 1790 and 1820. This fundamental debate was itself part of a larger crisis of authority gripping the nation in the age of democratic revolutions and provided a major source of religious conflict. (11) Hatch has demonstrated that populist religious leaders echoed cries for popular sovereignty in the political realm and employed the art of persuasion to establish their own claims to leadership based upon appeals to the common man, thereby undermining the authority of traditional religious leaders. The question of who had the right to exercise religious leadership was hotly contested as democratic religious leaders possessing neither social status nor education pressed their claims in the religious marketplace of the early republic. The conflict between the Methodist exemplars of democratization and the established clergy of New England certainly fits this reading of the religious history of the period. Opposition to Methodism in New England provides us with a clear example of the struggle over religious authority, as established ministers resisted the Methodist itinerants' claims to religious leadership, deriding them as unlearned and unfit to be ministers. Methodists responded that a college education and extensive theological training were no substitute for the call of the Spirit and the demonstrated ability to reach the hearts of a congregation and move them to repentance and faith.

The Methodist presence represented, therefore, a fundamental challenge to New England's churches and ministers. At one level the settled clergy's opposition to Methodism was a matter of religious competition; it is doubtless the case that orthodox ministers were eager to defend their prestige and status against a rival religious movement. Like eighteenth-century English parish clergyman, New England's established ministers were the ones who were most directly challenged by the emergence of the Methodists, who threatened division and set up "pulpit against pulpit, pastor against pastor." (12) The conflicts between Methodists and the established order of New England went beyond simple competition, however. More was at stake than questions of clerical loss of status and income or of challenges to established authority, for questions surrounding the nature of religious authority and who could properly exercise it were bound up with larger questions concerning the relationship between religion and the wider society. Religion, which was supposed to promote order, community stability, and the common good, threatened to become a social solvent if Methodism succeeded in drawing significant numbers away from the existing churches. Thus, opposition to Methodism reveals the presence of deep-seated fears of social disorder and community fragmentation. Such concerns were given greater force by the generalized fears of civil disorder present in New England in the decades after the Revolution as well as by the memories of the church schisms and upheaval that had accompanied the awakenings of the 1740s. As we will see, the centrifugal forces operating in the early republic rendered the introduction of increased religious competition and fragmentation into the religious realm particularly unwelcome. Thus, the Methodist incursion threatened a repeat of the disorders associated with the Great Awakening at just the time when the need for social order and social stability seemed to be more urgent than ever....

1801 Methodism continued to grow in upstate New Yor, Vermont and Western Massachusetts in such places as ... Chatham, NY...


In the same year (1970), Philip Greven published Four Generations, the first of his two important studies on religion and the early American family. In this community study of Andover, Massachusetts, Greven portrays New England fathers as patriarchs who, by dint of their longevity and the leverage of land legacies, held enormous influence over even their adult children. But the sway of patriarchy began to wane during the eighteenth century, Greven concludes, as many subdivisions of family farms sharply reduced the acreage that fathers could distribute among their children. And as paternal control over the economic futures of their offspring weakened, young New Englanders became more autonomous and assertive—more willing to challenge the authority of both their natural fathers and their parent country, England.

Which mode of childrearing does the New England Primer most reflect—the evangelical, the moderate, or the genteel?
Library of Congress


1731-2 - Eighteen sundry members of First Church of Christ fell away to Quakerism.
New Milford

Here's a link on the first great awakening and the many view on religion that seemed to explode during the "Great Awakening".

The effects They became passionately and emotionally involved in their religion, rather than passively listening to intellectual discourse in a detached manner. Ministers who used this new style of preaching were sometimes called "new lights," while the preachers who remained unemotional were referred to as "old lights

Historians have debated whether the Awakening had a political impact on the American Revolution, which took place soon after. Heimert (1966) argues that Calvinism and Jonathan Edwards provided pre-Revolutionary America with a radical and democratic social and political ideology and that evangelical religion embodied and inspired a thrust toward American nationalism. Colonial Calvinism was the basis for the American Great Awakening and that in turn lay at the basis of the American Revolution. Heimert thus sees a major impact as the Great Awakening provided the radical American nationalism that prompted the Revolution. Awakening preachers sought to review God's covenant with America and to repudiate the materialistic, acquisitive, corrupt world of an affluent colonial society. The source of this corruption lay in England, and a severance of the ties with the mother country would result in a rededication of America to the making of God's Kingdom. However, Heimert has been criticized for not recognizing the differences between educated and uneducated evangelists, and for not recognizing the significance of Separate-Baptists and Methodists.[2]

The First Great Awakening resulted from powerful preaching that aimed to convince listeners of their personal guilt and of their need of salvation through decisive action that included public repentance. The Great Awakening led people to "experience God in their own way" and taught that they were responsible for their own actions.[citation needed]

Pulling away from ritual and ceremony, the Great Awakening made religion intensely personal to the average person by creating a deep sense of spiritual guilt and redemption, along with introspection and a commitment to a new standard of personal morality.[citation needed] Historian Sydney E. Ahlstrom sees it as part of a "great international Protestant upheaval" that also created Pietism in Germany, the Evangelical Revival and Methodism in England.[3]

Second Great Awakening, began about 1800 and reached out to the unchurched. and perhaps led to the missionary movement that brought John Ridge to Connecticut.

The first great awakening


What historians call “the first Great Awakening” can best be described as a revitalization of religious piety that swept through the American colonies between the 1730s and the 1770s. That revival was part of a much broader movement, an evangelical upsurge taking place simultaneously on the other side of the Atlantic

Religion, especially the dynamics of evangelical Protestantism, played an important role in the tasks of internal expansion and nation-building which occupied Americans in the nineteenth century. At the same time, early in the century American Protestants also took their first steps beyond our shores in the foreign missionary movement.

...Two further internal missionary efforts, both to nonEuropean groups, framed and complemented the foreign missionary thrust. One was the continuation of missions to Native Americans, an effort already nearly three hundred years old. In the first third of the century this focused on the Cherokees of the southern highlands, and the fate of the missionary religious efforts there became a part of the tragic relocation of the Cherokees to the west, with several missionaries standing with the native Americans against the federal government....

Within this context of activist Protestant expansionism and mission efforts within the U.S., and as a direct extension of these home missions, the American foreign missionary movement developed. It began with the establishment in New England in 1810 of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). Like its British counterpart which preceded it by almost two decades (the London Missionary Society), this was a nondenominational voluntary organization, not under the management of any ecclesiastical body. For nearly half a century the ABCFM directed the bulk of Americans' overseas missionary efforts, which still ranked second in priority to the task of settling and Christianizing the continental U.S. ......Finally, late in the century there was a visible rise in American national self-confidence and an assumption that American values and institutions were as valid as the Christian gospel. This was the age of European empire-building around the world, and the U.S. was not immune to the trend; American national power also expanded by the end of the century, resulting in acquisition of an empire in the 1890s (Hawaii and the Philippines). In this context it was easy for American missionaries to conflate the Protestant responsibility to evangelize the world and the assumption that the U.S. was a special model of civic virtue and republican civilization.

complacency, or a sense of spiritual "dryness" among citizens.  Religion became a boring and cold pastime for them.  Eventually, a reaction against this complacency developed into a new spiritualism - or "revivalism" - where Christians would actually believe from the depths of their hearts during worship, rather than just go through the motions during services. 

       This new spiritual renewal began with people like the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield in England and crossed over to the American Colonies during the first half of the 18th Century.

Separatist -- espousing a strict Congregationalist model that rejected in any administrative or ecclesiastical hierarchy beyond the authority of the local congregations



What was the Great Awakening?

       The Great Awakening was a spiritual renewal that swept the American Colonies, particularly New England, during the first half of the 18th Century.  It began in England before catching fire across the Atlantic.  Unlike the somber, largely Puritan spirituality of the early 1700s, the revivalism ushered in by the Awakening brought people back to "spiritual life" as they felt a greater intimacy with God.   


What was the effect of the Great Awakening?

       The Awakening's biggest significance was the way it prepared America for its War of Independence.  In the decades before the war, revivalism taught people that they could be bold when confronting religious authority, and that when churches weren't living up to the believers' expectations, the people could break off and form new ones. 

       Through the Awakening, the Colonists realized that religious power resided in their own hands, rather than in the hands of the Church of England, or any other religious authority.  After a generation or two passed with this kind of mindset, the Colonists came to realize that political power did not reside in the hands of the English monarch, but in their own will for self-governance (consider the wording of the Declaration of Independence).  By 1775, even though the Colonists did not all share the same theological beliefs, they did share a common vision of freedom from British control.  Thus, the Great Awakening brought about a climate which made the American Revolution possible.


from C:\Documents and Settings\owner\Desktop\new stuff to backup\Reverand Elijah Woolsey (1771-1850) northrop ME.htm


Reverend Elijah Woolsey (1771-1850)
Reverend Thomas Woolsey (1771-1850)

Supernumerary, or the Lights and Shadows of the Itinerancy

J. Thomas Scharf, in his monumental History of Westchester County, New York, L. E. Preston & Co., Philadelphia, 1886 Reprinted by Picton Press, 1992. Vol. 2, p. 493, told of the early days of the Methodist Episcopal Church,

. . . circuits were the adopted form of regular pastoral visitations to preaching-points, some being termed "six weeks' circuits," some "four weeks circuits", this being the length of time required by the preacher to fill his various preaching appointments on the circuit and reach his starting-point again.

The Reverend Elijah Woolsey and his younger brother Reverend Thomas Woolsey are excellent representatives of the hard-working, dedicated men of the cloth, known as "Circuit Riders" or "Itinerant Preachers", who sacrificed their time, talents, health and home-comforts, to "take the word of the Lord" to outlying areas. His "circuit" was sometimes over 800 miles around and it would take him eight or nine weeks to "complete" his circuit, meaning he would be absent from his wife and family for eight or nine weeks at a time. In the almost forty years of which we have record, he traveled thousands of miles, on horseback, by foot and by boat. Shaking with colds and fevers, he would strive to make his next appointment at the appointed hour. In time, he became known for his diligence, his faith and his ability to help people "to see the light". He was given the "hardest" circuits, known for their poverty, their obstinacy and general "cussedness".

Elijah Woolsey was born in 1771, five years before the Declaration of Independence, and died in 1850. He lived his entire life within 50 miles of where he was born, but traveled extensively in New York State, Canada, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. His younger brother Reverend Thomas Woolsey was born about 1772, both sons of a prosperous farmer and Revolutionary War Veteran, Captain John Woolsey, one of the leading men of Ulster County and a trustee of the Presbyterian Church in Marlborough, Ulster County, New York, and his wife Chlorine (Clarisa) Peck. Captain John Woolsey was the son of Richard Woolsey and Sarah Fowler. Elijah Woolsey was married twice, but I have found no issue by either wife, Electa Rockwell (d/o John) and Phoebe Wilson (who had a brother Joseph W. Wilson). Thomas Woolsey (b. abt 1772 - d. 1815 at Saugerties, Ulster, NY), married about 1794 to Rebecca Gedney (d/o Daniel Gedney and Charlotte Fowler) and they had four children: Ashbury (md Julia S.------), Eleazer W., Fletcher, and Charity (md John Thorne).


1771    Born at Marlborough, Ulster County, New York, to Captain John Woolsey and Chlorine Peck. "I had a praying mother . . . she taught her children to fear God and reverence for the Holy Scriptures . . . . the 'circuit riders' came regularly to our house, and many were the godly admonitions that we received from them." - mentions: my sister, my Brother "H." [Henry] and my sister-in-law, my cousin and his wife, had one child, and my brother "T." received license to preach a little before I did."
c1772    Brother Thomas Woolsey, "my younger brother", was born at Marlborough.
1792    Went to the north part of the state of New York on a six months circuit, split it with his brother, Thomas.

Canada Circuit

1794    Called to Canada - went by way of Albany, Schenectady, up the Mohawk river, through Rome, down the Oswego river, arrived at the fort of Oswego on lake Ontario, to Black river country, made for Salmon river - rounded Stony Point, into Hungary Bay and landed at Grenadier Island. Nineteen days on this journey.
1795    I went to Oswegothe, Bro Coleman to Bay Quinte and Bro Dunham to Niagara Circuit. It was a trip of 60 to 70 miles to visit. He was near the river St. Lawrence.
1795    To conference in New York City - left Bay of Quinte - up the Oswego river - to Oneida lake, tremendous storm - used to sing with the Indian Red Jacket who had translated some of the songs into the Indian language, saw Capt. Brandt's house and saw the Indian wife of Sir John Johnson.
1796    Back to the conference in New York and was appointed to the Reading Circuit in CT.
1797    Toward the close of the year 1797 I changed my station in life (married Electa Rockwell)
1800    I was re-admitted into the traveling connection and appointed to the Newburgh, NY circuit.

Newburgh, New York Circuit

        I preached at New-Paltz, lodged at my sister's, met with Mr. Ellison of New-Windsor, and went to the Conference in Philadelphia.

Flanders Circuit, New Jersey

1801    Appointed to Flanders Circuit in New Jersey - a place called Fox Hill and Spring Mills

Harmony Hill/Stillwater, Sussex Co., NJ M.E. Church

1802    What is now known as the Harmony Methodist Episcopal Church originated in a Methodist Episcopal Class organized in 1802 in Jacob Mains' log house by Revs. Elijah Woolsey and Gamaliel Bailey. There were twelve members in that class, but the names of only ten can be recalled: Jacob Mains & wife, Catharine Maines, Christianus Mains, Abram Mains, James Egbert & wife, Mr. Kimball & wife. James Egbert was the leader. Among the earliest to join were Jacob Savercool, Jacob Banghart & wife, Conrad Hammond & wife, Samuel Lanney and wife. - The class was attached to the Flanders Circuit, and Rev. Elijah Woolsey assigned as the preacher in charge, with Gamaliel Bailey as his assistant. This circuit was a very large one, and called for a journey of nearly 400 miles. As an indication of how the M. E. preachers were worked in those days it may be remarked that Woolsey and bailey preached from eight to twelve times every week while traveling that great circuit. [Snell, James P. History of Sussex County, New Jersey. With illus. Etc. Genealogical Researchers, Washington, NJ 1981. FHL # 974.97 H2s. Vol. I.
1802    Attended conference in Philadelphia, and appointed again to Flanders Circuit. - at a place called "Log Jail" and a place called the "Shades of Death".
1803    Conference held at a place called Duck Creek in the State of Delaware.
1804    Called again to Flanders Circuit - three months, then to the Albany District
General conference held this year & the district enlarged and taken into the New York Conf.
1805    The second year my labours were more pleasant, but some ministers suffered, especially those on the Black River circuit. The District was nearly 800 miles around and I was absent between eight and nine weeks from my wife.
1806    Wife's failing health, appointed to Brooklyn
1807    14 Feb - wife died
1808    Attended next conference, held in Amenia, Dutchess, NY and appointed to Croton Circuit.

Croton Circuit

            1795 -Thomas Woolsey, A. Van Nostrand, Jacob Perkins, ministers on Croton Circuit [Scharf 2:640]
        1808 - Elijah Woolsey, Isaac Candee [Scharf 2:640]
       1819-20 - Elijah Woolsey, John B. Matthias [Scharf 2:640]
1809    About the close of the conference year, I was united in marriage to an amiable woman, who
1810    is still living (1845) - Conference in New York

New Windsor Circuit

              Union M. E. Church, Vail's gate or in the old records "Union Church of New Windsor". It was the outgrowth of what was known in 1789 as the John Ellison class. Occupied by the Union Church until 1807, when the present building, which now forms the oldest church edifice of the denomination on the west bank of the Hudson River. In 1809 it was made the head of the New Windsor circuit, with Rev. Thomas Woolsey and James Coleman, preachers.
               1797 - Samuel Fowler, Thomas Woolsey
               1800 - Samuel Fowler, Elijah Woolsey
               1809 - Thomas Woolsey, James Coleman
1811        Appointed to Pittsfield Circuit (Pennsylvania?) - Conference was held there

Dutchess Court

1812    Smith, James H. "The Churches of Pawling" from History of Dutchess County, New York. 1882. "The Methodist Society was organized here a few years after the beginning of the present century. The first attempt to build a house of worship was made in the year 1812. Among the early ministers were Revs. Wm Thatcher, Nathan Streathen, Nathan or John Emory, an Irishman by the name of Moriarity, Billy Hibbard, Elijah Woolsey, and Beardsley Northrop.
1812    Appointed to Dutchess (NY) Circuit and continued there two years - attended Conference in Albany
1813    Moved my wife on this Dutchess Circuit which is the second and last time I every moved my family in thirty years.
1813    To take charge of Rhinebeck (NY) Circuit - the sounds of war could be heard all around us - I heard the report of the cannon when the ship PRESIDENT was taken on the south side of Long Island, and also when the British attacked Guilford.
1813-1814 Elijah Woolsey - Great Hill United Methodist Church, but couldn't tell where it is.

Stratford, Connecticut Circuit

1814    Given the Middletown District in Connecticut and called to the Stratford (CT) circuit

Redding, Connecticut Circuit

1815    Appointed to the Redding (CT) circuit - Methodism was first preached in Connecticut in Wilton, Fairfield, CT at the home of John Rockwell, the father of my first wife. - elected a delegate to General Conference
1816    General Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
1816    Appointed to Dutchess (NY) Circuit - at Amenia, and Quarterly Meeting was held at Poughkeepsie.

Newburgh Circuit

       1786 - Methodism came to Milton in the fall of 1786, when two circuit riders [one was Ezekiel Cooper] from the Flanders Circuit (New Jersey) preached in the home of one John Woolsey (father of Elijah and Thomas Woolsey)
       1792 - Thomas Woolsey, Elijah Woolsey
       1797 - Thomas Woolsey, Elijah Woolsey
1816    Appointed to Newburgh (NY) circuit
1817    Elijah Woolsey, Circuit Rider of Methodist Church, at Marlborough, Ulster Co, NY
1818    Elijah Woolsey baptized the following at Newburgh, NY circuit of Methodist Episcopal Church:
18 Jan 1818 - Elizabeth Mance d/o John & Phebe Mance b. 5 Jan 1818
17 Jun 1818 - David Mapes s/o George & Rachel Mapes b. 31 Oct 1818
18 Jun 1818 - James Trumble
15 Jul 1818 - Phebe Trumble

New- Rochelle Circuit (1787 - 1832)

       1795 - Thomas Woolsey, Albert Van Nostrand and Jacob Perkins, ministers on the circuit [Scharf 1:735]
       1820-2   -   Elijah Woolsey, William Jewett, Robert Seney & Noble W. Thomas [Scharf 1:735]
1820    Appointed to New-Rochelle Circuit - at Rye (NY) -

Cortland Circuit

       First comprised all the upper part of the county in Somers, Lewisboro' and North Salem.
then appointed to Cortland Circuit - It was where I lived at the time and it was one of the hardest circuits on the district.
1821    The next year was appointed to New-Rochelle Circuit - stayed at Joseph Wilson's, my brother-in-law, & Rye

Rye/New Rochelle Circuit

       May 1821 - The Society at Rye formed part of the New Rochelle Circuit. In this year, under the labors of E. Woolsey and W. Jewett, there was a revival of religion at Rye, and many persons were converted. [Scharf 2:692]

Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut

       King Street Methodist Episcopal Church, ministers included Rev. Elijah Woolsey (sometime bet 1821-1832)
       Round Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, organized 1826, included Rev. Elijah Woolsey, 1826.
       Horseneck, now Borough of Greenwich, organized 1812, included Rev. Elijah Woolsey, 1826.
1828    New-Rochelle/White Plains - Elijah Woolsey, S. Cochran and Josiah Bowen [Scharf 1:736]
1843    Writing this book - at Rye - Lower Rochelle, King Street, Portchester, Milton.

Supernumerary, or the Lights and Shadows of the Itinerancy

Although the early records of Catholics in Fairfield County are incomplete, it is known that the first Catholic Center was in Bridgeport, with the first recorded Mass in 1830, leading to the building of St. James Church in 1840-41. then followed Norwalk and Stamford(1847 and 1848). Danbury followed in 1851, with Newtown in 1859. Ridgefield, Bethel, Georgetown and Redding Ridge came later.

As noted earlier, the first Catholic families in Redding had all immigrated from Ireland.

Often, the father of a family came first, or unmarried sons and daughters got jobs and sent for the other members of the family. Most were unskilled and had little formal education. All, however, had some knowledge of farming and a willingness to work. In this respect, some learned trades and became stone masons, carpenters, and at least one became a blacksmith.


It all begins in 1776, a year of revolution, that sparked waves of social upheaval beyond those simply tied to the war. One of those waves began with a funeral.

Jemima Wilkinson, a daughter of Quakers and New Light Baptist convert was 25 years old and living in Ledyard, Connecticut the year of the Declaration of Independence. She was known throughout the area for her fascination with religion and tendency to obsessively quote Scripture. Her death by fever, however, was not completely out of the ordinary for the time, though many mourners arrived at the funeral from the community probably because of her youth. During the funeral service, the coffin was opened for a final viewing of the corpse; to everyone's surprise and horror, the body was not cold and lifeless. Jemima's face had color and her chest moved with breath. The young woman suddenly leapt up in the casket and announced that she had died and returned to life; "If she was going to be buried today, Jemima vowed, she alone would preach the interment sermon. But, she intoned, she wasn't about to be buried, this day or any other day soon."[1] She had seen the Light and was brought back to heal the world. Proclaiming to be Christ reborn, she changed her name to the "Publick (sic) Universal Friend" and stated that she would found a new religion, the "Universal Friends."

The speech was so moving and "few who heard her resurrection speech were unimpressed with its sincerity and persuasiveness." [2] Word spread like wildfire of Jemima's return and she quickly became the hottest attraction in southeast Connecticut. Jemima was a "tall and graceful woman with dark hair and dark eyes, she had a magnetic personality and a powerful preaching style that created fervent disciples."[2] She took to preaching in men's clothing and gathered a following. Of course, soon a whispering campaign was instigated against her that forced her, and a small group of her followers, into exile. The "Jemimamites" began a wandering life, first to New Milford (CT) and then to Tioga County (PA). Everywhere they were reviled, but at the same time, her following constantly grew. Jemima's preaching followed Quaker ideals, though she adopted Shaker concepts of communalism and sexual abstinence and Calvinist ideas of a lost and dying world. She fiercely promoted Abolitionism, Pacifism and "Plain" living (including dress) [2].

In Tioga she declared that the Jemimakin (their new name in PA) would leave their tormentors and travel to the frontier where they would construct a community based on love, a new Jerusalem. They travelled close to 100 miles, deep in the wilderness to Keuka Lake. "In order to show their respect for their leader and also to reduce the wear and tear on her person from what promised to be a difficult journey -- the Jemimakins constructed for her traveling comfort a magnificent sedan chair complete with well-padded seats, a garish paint job and the initials 'P.U.F.' emblazoned on each side." [1]

universalfriendIn 1787, the Universal Friends founded the settlement of Jerusalem, NY. Today this name lives on in the Town of Jerusalem, located on the same spot, in Yates County. The settlement they founded on the northern shores of Keuka Lake grew and prospered with Jemima at its head. In 1790, it reportedly had 260 inhabitants; however it did not grow in numbers beyond this and life soon settled into a routine at Jerusalem, slowly losing its early fervour.

Jemima died in 1819 and her faith began to quietly break up afterwards. Reportedly, Jemima's followers so deeply believed in her first resurrection that her body remained unburied in a public spot for decades after her death to await her return. Finally, she was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on her property where she rests today.

The town of Jerusalem did not disappear though and continued to prosper. "In later years, long after Jemima's passing, when the first post office was pending for the City of Jerusalem, the federal government asked the residents if they would be willing to rename their settlement: something shorter, perhaps, with a less biblical ring to it, but appropriate, of course. Since everyone in town had originally followed Jemima Wilkinson from Pennsylvania or Yankee Connecticut, they agreed to call their town 'Penn Yan.' Thus Penn Yan, New York, was born and officially registered in Washington, D.C." [1]

Joe and I visited Penn Yan and the Town of Jerusalem today and took a pilgrimmage to Jemima's/The Friend's house, which is still standing. The tall, white farmhouse is private property and only a tiny plaque bearing this bland inscription: "Built around 1790. Friend's Home. Here lived Jemimah Wilkinson known as the Universal Friend."

Jerusalem -- A hamlet appearing on the 1906 topographic map, but submerged under the New Milford branch of Candlewood Lake.

PEOPLE: The Universal Friend



Jemima Wilkinson, the first American-born woman to found a religious movement, was born in Rhode Island in about 1765, of Quaker parents. In 1776 she fell ill of a fever. She awoke from a coma and told those standing by that Jemima had died and a spirit from heaven now inhabited her body. She never again used her birth name and until her death in 1819 was always referred to as the Public Universal Friend. 

Her teachings were influenced both by the somewhat mystical version of Quakerism current at the time, by the Shaker movement founded a few years earlier by Mother Anne Lee, and by the New Light Methodists, whose meetings she had attended. She wore androgynous clothing, rode horseback, let her hair hang loose on her shoulders and wore a man's broad-brimmed hat; and she preached in public, a tremendous novelty for a woman in the 1770s. She preached all over southern New England and beginning in 1782, in the Philadelphia area. Sometime about the middle 1780s she determined to remove her followers from the persecution and distractions attendant on living among people not of her faith. 

Beginning in 1785 or 1786 some of her followers began to enter the Genesee Country for the purpose of finding a site for their settlement. Western New York had before the Revolution been off bounds for American settlers, the British choosing to leave the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy unmolested. Both New York and Massachusetts were still locked in a dispute over which state should have sovereignty over the area, since the natives had been driven out by General John Sullivan's expedition in 1779. 

In the summer of 1787, a party of three scouts from the Universal Friend's society travelled from New Milford CT to Philadelphia. They were Thomas Hathaway, Richard Smith and Abraham Dayton. They went on horseback into the Wyoming Valley of western Pennsylvania. There they met a man named Spalding who gave them directions on how to find Seneca Lake. The scouts found Sullivan's path and followed it up the east side of the lake to the site of Geneva, and thence some miles down the west side to a place called Kashong, where a Seneca village had been destroyed and where a pair of French traders and their Cayuga wives now resided. The traders, named Dominic DeBartzch and Joseph Poudre, told the scouts they had travelled all over Canada and the West, and this was the finest land to be had anywhere. The no-doubt travel-weary scouts were willing to be persuaded and explored a little. They returned to the Universal Friend with a favorable report.

Early the following summer a party of 25 of the Friend's pioneers met at Schenectady and embarked on batteaux. They followed the water route up the Mohawk, and overland into the drainage of the Seneca River. They found only Elark Jenning's rude cabin at the site of Geneva, and went by water up the east side of Seneca Lake to Kendaia or Apple Town, another of the villages that Sullivan had destroyed. They searched there unsuccessfully for a mill site, and attracted by the sound of falling water they crossed the lake and found there the mouth of the Outlet of Keuka Lake. This being a perennial stream with excellent water power capability, they determined to found their settlement nearby, on a knoll now called City Hill, about a mile south of the Outlet and a short distance inland, on the ancient Indian path from the Susquehanna country up into Canada. This was the first permanent white settlement in western New York. 

The Friend herself joined her followers in the early spring of 1790; by that time nearly all of her people who ever did come to the then-wilderness had already arrived, perhaps 300 persons in all. Of course, they never enjoyed the isolation they originally sought, being the unwitting vanguard of one of the first (and greatest) of many surges of westward migration in American history. Furthermore, the land many of them settled turned out to be in the limbo between the two Pre-Emption Lines, and a good title was in some cases very hard to come by. This and other problems led in 1794 to the Friend and some of her people moving a few miles west into the present town of Jerusalem. She died there in 1819, in an impressive and elegant house which still stands high on the hill overlooking the valley of Sugar Creek. 

The Society of Universal Friends did not long survive its charismatic founder. Her portrait, her Bible, many of her papers and other belongings may be seen at the Oliver House Museum in Penn Yan. Her lasting influence is still a subject of study, whether she was a forerunner of the religious and other reform movements that periodically swept western and central New York in the 19th century, and whether she had any influence on the emerging rights of women (one of those movements). Certainly she drew a group of tough and high-minded people to this area right at its very beginning; they dominated the development of Yates County during the first century after its settlement, and even now some of their descendants still live and work here.

1731-2 - Eighteen sundry members of First Church of Christ fell away to Quakerism.

December 3 1741 Income from sale of western lands was applied to upkeep of schools.
1754 Taxes could be paid in old tenor (tender) or new tenor (tender) money as long as the value is the same.
1755 French Indian War. Five to ten men served. General Phinehas Lyman commanded Connecticut troops.

1746 - St. John's Episcopal Church organized with visiting clergy.

1754 - Rev. Solomon Palmer the first resident Episcopal clergyman, came to New Milford.

The second Congregational MeetingHouse was built. Parish of Newbury (Brookfield) incorporated by the General Assembly. New Milford contributed 8 sq. miles, Danbury 33/4 sq. miles and Newtown 6 sq. miles.

1756 - Census taken showing 1,137 inhabitants.

1758-62 - New Milford sent 139 men to the Colonial Wars.

1760 - Gaylordsville School District laid out. Upper Merryall Cemetery laid out.

1761 - The Separatists or Strict Congregationalists built a house of worship near the Center Cemetery.

1765 - Second Episcopal Church erected.

1769 - School District organized.

1774 - Census taken showing 2,776 inhabitants.

1775-80 New Milford sent 285 men to the Revolutionary War.

1778 - Three Brigades of the Continental Army (4,663 men) under the command of General McDougal camped for one month on Second Hill.

1780 - General Washington passed through Gaylordsville.

1782 - Jemima Wilkinson came to New Milford and held meetings in Northville.

1787 - Probate District of New Milford formed with Samuel Canfield first Judge.

1788 - Nicholas Wanzer deeded land to the Quakers, it being the same land on which the old Quaker Meeting House now stands with the burying ground adjoining. The old Quaker MeetingHouse was removed to its present site from Pickett District.

1789 - Town House-School House built at north end of Main Street.

1777 First rationing board was formed. Salt was rationed. Reason - it was used to make gun powder. Winter
1777 Two oxen presented by Durhamites driven 500 miles to Valley Forge to feed officers of Washington's Army.
August 1783 Town voted against half pay for life for Revolutionary War officers.
November 12 1787 Town Meeting voted against accepting Federal Constitution. No 67; Yes 4.
1789 George Washington again passed through on Eastern Tour.
1790 Pest House sold, not the land upon which it stands. Voted to give Elizur Parmelee right to set up a post on north side of meeting- house to hang his horse at.
1793 Decided by vote that three taverns was enough for the town.
1794 Provision made for a steeple clock and bell.
February 22 1798 The Aqueduct Company was formed with 19 members. One of the oldest water companies in the USA.
1798 Dollars referred to instead of pounds.

1790 - Professor Nehemiah Strong had a private school for boys about this time.

1792 - Bridge built at Little Falls, (foot of West Street).

1793 - New Milford divided into two military divisions, line running just north of the Knapp residence. The new South Company was organized, Nathan Bostwick Captain.

1794 - A destructive tornado crossed New Milford causing much damage.

1796 - Union Circulating Library established.

January 6 1843 Voted to build suitable and convenient sidewalk or footbridge on the south side and adjoining the west side of Mill Bridge

Reverend Elijah Woolsey (1771-1850)
Reverend Thomas Woolsey (1771-1850)Supernumerary, or the Lights and Shadows of the ItinerancyJ. Thomas Scharf, in his monumental History of Westchester County, New York, L. E. Preston & Co., Philadelphia, 1886 Reprinted by Picton Press, 1992. Vol. 2, p. 493, told of the early days of the Methodist Episcopal Church,

. . . circuits were the adopted form of regular pastoral visitations to preaching-points, some being termed "six weeks' circuits," some "four weeks circuits", this being the length of time required by the preacher to fill his various preaching appointments on the circuit and reach his starting-point again.

Dutchess Court
1812 Smith, James H. "The Churches of Pawling" from History of Dutchess County, New York. 1882. "The Methodist Society was organized here a few years after the beginning of the present century. The first attempt to build a house of worship was made in the year 1812. Among the early ministers were Revs. Wm Thatcher, Nathan Streathen, Nathan or John Emory, an Irishman by the name of Moriarity, Billy Hibbard, Elijah Woolsey, and Beardsley Northrop.
Reverand Elijah Woolsey (1771-1850) northrop ME.htm

Spiritualists Memorial to Congress

March 1854
13,000 Names
396 Feet in Length

33d Congress
1 Sess

Of N P Tallmadge and others, Citizens of the US praying the appointment of a Scientific
Commission to investigate certain physical and mental phenomena of questionable origin and
mysterious import that have of late occurred in this country and in Europe

1854 April 17th, ordered to lie on the table
Presented by Mr Shields

Northrop Kellogg New Milford  Litchfield County Connecticut
(Northrop is his first name)

Different segments held differeing beliefs on

orininal sinfulness, whether only an elect few could ever be saved, wheher good works would affect salvation. But the agitation also touched on the good order of the community, the financial support of the parish, emphasis on material security and emotional or rational belief and even class. So it was already a time of religious tension in 1733,that the preaching of Jonathan Edwards,colonial American Congregational preacher, theologian, spurred a religious revival beginning in Northampton, MA and spreading through the Connecticut valley.

 x 1733 x            







This home on Pequot Avenue, Southport, Connecticut is a recently restored example of the Northrop Brothers fine carpentry and building in the Southport-Greeens Farms area.

Image Courtesy of David Parker Associates