Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

The Methodist Churches in Potsdam

Potsdam United Methodist Church Stained Glass

Although there were Methodists meeting in homes earlier, Methodism in Potsdam dates to the formal organization of a Methodist Society on November 12, 1820. Since then Potsdam Methodists have worshipped in three church buildings.

"The White Church" was built shortly after organization. It sat at the corner of Main and Park (the present firehouse site). Pictures show it as a small simple building, but it was host to sessions of the Black River Annual Conference in 1837, 1844, and 1857. One of the pastors who served in that building was Jesse Peck, later a Methodist bishop and a founder of Syracuse University.

The Methodist movement became a full fledged church in 1784 and by 1840 was the largest denomination in the US. It grew rapidly in Potsdam as well. And outgrew "The White Church." As a result, in 1860, a large brick church building was constructed at the other end of the block, the corner of Main and Union. "The Brick Church" hosted annual conference sessions in 1865 (Black River) and 1876 (Northern New York).

Early in the 20th Century, the congregation decided that an even newer building was needed. On August 21, 1903, Rev. John W. Miller and the congregation laid the cornerstone of our present building. The congregation continued to worship in the "Brick Church" while the new church, made of granite (Gouverneur marble), was being built behind it.

When the "Sunday School Area" (now the Fellowship Hall) was completed in July, 1904, the congregation began worshiping in it and the brick church was torn down. Several bricks from the old church were used in the construction of the new one.

The sanctuary was dedicated March 22, 1908. The first services in it were held that day. Rev. Jabez Stallwood arranged for guest speakers for the three services. The congregation celebrated the sanctuary's centennial on Easter (March 22) 2008 with a display of pictures and memorabilia and by beginning the service with the hymns that had been sung at the dedication service (and from the hymnal then in use).

The present building hosted annual conference sessions in 1909, 1933, and 1967 annual conferences (Northern New York Conference).

Circuit Riders Serving St. Lawrence Circuit prior to November 12, 1820

1806            Sylvanus Keeler     [Joseph Sawyer, PE]
1807            Samuel Cochran          "
1808            Chandler Lambert        "
1809            William Snow            "
1810            Edward Cooper       [Henry Ryan, PE]
1811            Isaac Puffer        [Gideon Draper, PE]
1812            Isaac Puffer        [George Harmon, PE]
1813            Benjamin G. Paddock [William Case, PE]
1814            Joseph Hickock      [Charles Giles, PE]
1815            Israel Chamberlain  [Henry Ryan, PE]
1816            Wyatt Chamberlain   [William Case, PE]
                John Dempster           "
1817            Andrew Prindle          "
                Thomas M'Gee            "
1818            Timothy Goodwin         "
                Calvin N. Flint         "
1819            Timothy Goodwin         "
                Thomas Demorest         "

Pastors of the White Church (1820-1860)

1820-1821       Josiah Keyes and William Rundell
1821-1822       Ezra Healy and Orin Foot
1822-1823       Truman Dixon, Roswell Parker
1823            Warren Bannister
1824            J. W. Brooks and Isaac Smith
1825            William Rundell and Hiram May
1826            Benjamin G. Paddock and Hiram May
1827            B. Dighton and G. Barney
1828-1830       Josiah Keyes
1830            Benjamin B. Shipman
1831-1833       Azariah Hall
1833            B. Phillips
1834            Robert Everdell
1835-1837       Jesse T. Peck
1837            Charles W. Leete
1838            Isaac L. Hunt
1839            James W. Downing
1840-42         Harvey E. Chapin
1842            Joseph Kilpatrick
1843-1845       Isaac Stone
1845-1847       Ebenezer Arnold
1847-1849       Joseph H. Lamb
1849-1851       Peter D. Gorrie
1851            Otis M. Legate
1852            Erasmus Jones
1853-1855       William A. Nichols
1855            William H. Hawkins
1856            Samuel Marsh
1857            Lafayette D. White
1858-1860       Peter D. Gorrie
1860            John B. Foote

Pastors of the Brick Church 1860-1904

1858-1860       Peter D. Gorrie
1859            John B. Foote
1861-1863       Orlando C. Cole
1863-1866       Samuel Call
1866-1868       J. Fletcher Clymer
1868-1871       Sydney O. Barnes
1871            James Stewart
1872-1874       Lafayette D. White
1875-1878       Alexander Bramley
1878-1882       Eli C. Bruce
1881            A. L. York
1882-1884       Josiah Darling
1884-1887       Samuel Call
1887-1890       Anson Webster
1890-1893       Albert Loucks
1893-1897       Charles Guile
1897-1900       Olin B. Coit
1896-1905       John W. Miller

Pastors of the Stone (Gouverneur Marble) Church 1904 - present

1896-1905       John W. Miller (1)
1906-1912       Jabez Stallwood
1912-1915       Stephen T. Dibble
1915-1918       Fred. R. Griffiths
1918-1925       Matthew Sill
1925-1931       Roy Sheffield
1931-1934       John Redmond
1934            Walter Smith
1934-1942       Dean Richardson
1942-1943       Howard Moses
1942-1948       Paul Roy
1948-1952       Wendell Carter
1952-1955       Robert Jones
1955-1961       Merle O. Brown
1961-1976       William Caldwell
1976-1978       Donald Robinson
1978-1983       Paul Mills
1983-1989       W. Russell Clark
1989-1999       Samuel K. Davis
1999-2004       Gary Rhodehamel
2004-2007       Mary Guy
2007-           James E. Barnes II

(1) Rev. Miller served at the time construction began and when worship began in the Sunday School Room (now Fellowship Hall). Rev. Stallwood was the first to serve once the sanctuary was completed and dedicated.

Deceased Pastor's Service, May 26th 2012

The Graves we Visit

Rev. Samuel Marsh

Rev. Marsh was born March 11, 1819. He was a physician and a school teacher in Potsdam. He was converted by Rev. Gorrie who buried quite near him. Although admitted on trial, his other activities kept him busy and he was never ordained.

The church records show him serving here in 1856 and he certainly did some preaching [see information on Rev. Call]. However, he appears to have served under Rev. William A. Nichols rather than ever being appointed as pastor of our congregation. He left the ministry for a few years and then returned. He enlisted when the Civil War began and was selected Lt. Colonel of the Sixteenth NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

He was shot at Gaines Mill (Hill) (apparently on June 27, 1862 when the battle was fought and as many sources say, rather than on July 1 as his stone says. He died from that injury on July 4 of that year. The local GAR unit and its auxiliary as well as the Civil War veterans section of Bayside was named for him even though he is not buried in that section. His work would primarily have been in the white church; his funeral was in the brick church, and his son Rev. William D. Marsh was a speaker at one of the activities dedicating the present church. The 2012 service took place at his grave

Rev. Peter Douglass Gorrie

Rev Gorrie was born in Scotland on April 21, 1813 and served the Potsdam church twice (1849-51; 1858-60). He served several churches in our area including Canton (twice), Fort Covington, Bombay, Norfolk and Ogdensburg. He was a delegate to General Conference in 1856 and 1860 and served as District Superintendent.

He authored the first two volumes of the memorials of the Black River Conference. He wrote other books as well. Three of his four wives are buried with him. He died on September 12, 1884 after being retired for health reasons since 1860. In his retirement he resided in Potsdam. A window in the organ room off the pastor's office/robing room honors Rev. Gorrie. The 2009 service took place at his grave

Rev. Elbert Frank Felton

Rev. Felton was born July 23, 1853 at Russell and was converted in Potsdam at age 18. Five years later he sold his Hannawa Falls farm and entered the ministry.

He served such area churches as Colton, South Colton, Hannawa, Galilee, Bucks Bridge and West Potsdam). He died June 17, 1936.

Rev. Rufus King

Rev. King was born in New Hampshire on April 10, 1811. After initially serving on the Chateaugay and Bombay circuits, he served several churches in our area including West Stockholm, Norfolk, and Moira (each twice) Bucks Bridge and the St. Regis Indian Mission (now Hogansburg).

In the Black River Conference, he was the father of the movement to forbid the use of tobacco by pastors. He died July 27, 1883

Rev. William Hawkins

Rev. Hawkins was born near Fort Covington on December 26, 1815. He graduated from Franklin Academy in Malone where he was a schoolmate of William Wheeler, later elected US Vice President. He served the Potsdam church in 1855. He also served such neighboring churches as West Stockholm, Canton, and Chateaugay.

He is the father of Charles E. Hawkins. Also a successful newspaperman and business man, he died February 9, 1889. A window in the Sam Davis Prayer Room is dedicated to his memory. The 2010 service took place at his grave.

Rev. Samuel Call

Rev. Call was born July 1, 1832 and raised in Potsdam. He was converted by Dr. Samuel Marsh at a camp meeting. He served the Potsdam church twice (1863-1866; 1884-1887). He served other churches in the area (among them Lawrence, Norfolk, Louisville, Ogdensburg, and Malone) as well as serving as District Superintendent.

He was a six time delegate to General Conference. He died July 30, 1916. Being raised in Potsdam, he had to have attended services in the white church. He served in the Brick Church and was present at the dedication service for the sanctuary in March of 1908, making him the only pastor that we are certain worshiped in all three of our buildings. He was also one of the first to live in the present parsonage.

The 2011 service was to have taken place at his grave, but wet grounds forced a move to the church.

Rev. David Egbert Robson

Rev. Robson was born in Canada on June 9, 1879 and entered the ministry in that country. In 1903 he became a member of the Northern New York. He served churches in Bucks Bridge, Lawrence, Bombay, and Rensselaer Falls. Because of illness he retired in 1931 and died June 24, 1956.

Rev. Charles Conkey Townsend

Rev. Townsend was born in North Lawrence March 1, 1852 and was educated at the Potsdam Normal School (where he was the first student to enroll) and the University of Rochester. He taught at the Normal School and resigned that position to serve in local churches. Among the area churches he served were Bucks Bridge and Malone.

He was St. Lawrence District Superintendent for six years and was a delegate to the General Conference four times, twice leading the conference delegation. In 1915 he was to be the commencement speaker at Potsdam Normal School. However, on June 19, as he hurried up Elm St. he was stricken and shortly died.

The Normal School commencement was altered to allow faculty, alumni, and school friends to attend his Potsdam church funeral. Julia Crane sang at the funeral.

Rev. Alfred Ernest Page

Rev. Page was born in the Town of Potsdam on March 24, 1866. During his ministry he served a number of area churches including Colton, Norfolk, Lawrence, and Parishville. He was described as a man who "was a true friend of Temperance and all moral reform. Twice he took time off from appointments for health reasons. In 1911 he was appointed to Parishville, but the following March 14, he died of pneumonia. His funeral was at the Parishville church.

Rev. Charles Hawkins

Rev. Hawkins was the son of William H. Hawkins. He was born in Massena in 1843. In 1862, he left his studies at St. Lawrence Academy to enlist in the army. He was wounded during the Petersburg campaign and was part of the storming of Ft. Fisher. His service was of such quality that he rose from private to First Lieutenant. After the war he studied at Wesleyan University and entered the ministry.

He was a member of the Northern NY Conference and served churches in Jefferson County after an initial appointment to churches in Wisconsin. He died on August 6, 1903 Some sources indicate that his funeral was held in the Potsdam Town Hall although the obituary that appeared in the Courier - Freeman indicated that it was held in the Presbyterian church,

Rev. Jabez Stallwood

Rev. Stallwood was born in England (near Disraeli's home) January 29, 1860. He moved to the United States in 1889 and became a member of the Northern New York Conference. He served Potsdam from 1906-1912.

A fine preacher with a unique style, it was by one man, "I'd rather hear Mr. Stallwood tell it than see the thing myself." He was serving here when the sanctuary was completed and dedicated in March of 1908. He passed away March 4, 1924. The 2008 service began at his grave.

William Eldridge

Bill Eldridge was a friend to many of us. He was a teacher and professor. He would have been recognized as a Golden Member tomorrow on Pentecost, but passed away January 1, 2011. Today we pay our respects to Bill and let him represent all the laity of the congregation

Rev. William Caldwell

Rev Caldwell was born October 26, 1913 and served the Potsdam Church longer than any other pastor (1961-76). He was a fine athlete who could dunk a basketball and who was a powerful baseball player. He was also a pilot. Most of the churches he served other than Potsdam were considerably south of here. He died October 7, 2001, having retired after serving Potsdam.

Rev. Aaron B. Corbin

Rev. Corbin was educated at the Potsdam Normal School and Middlebury College. He originally planned to become a lawyer, but chose to enter the ministry instead. Most of the churches he served were in the southern portion of the Northern New York Conference. He was NNY Conference Secretary for 20 years and was a delegate to General Conference on four occasions. He died December 2, 1956.

Rev. Wendell Rathbun Carter

Rev. Carter was born in the Evans Mills parsonage on January 15, 1909. He attended Norwood High School and St. Lawrence University. He served our congregation from 1948 to 1953, when he took ill and died on August 29. He was 44 at the time of his death. During his ministry, he served as President of the Conference Board of Missions. The meditation room/chapel at Canton Potsdam Hospital is named for him.

Mrs. Claire Mann Taylor

Claire Mann was born in Potsdam on April 3, 1881. She married Nelson V. Taylor on June 23, 1906 in the first wedding to take place in our present church building. The wedding was described in the newspaper as "one of the most beautiful and impressive services which Potsdam has ever witnessed. Julia Crane was the soloist.

In the article on the wedding (performed by her uncles Rev. Dr. F. D. Blakeslee of Cazenovia Seminary and J. W. Miller, former Potsdam pastor) Claire was said to be "one of Potsdam's most popular and talented young women..." The couple moved to Salisbury, NC where on July 4, 1908 she gave birth to a son, Warren Mann Taylor. However, a few weeks later she took ill and died. Rev. Charles Townsend and Rev. Jabez Stallwood (both also buried in Bayside) officiated at the funeral.