Madison County, NY
History of the Lenox Congregational Church
On 11 March 1804 there was a meeting in the school house located near the home
of Col. Thomas W. Phelps in what was at that time the Town of Sullivan to
discuss the formation of a Congregational Church. The Rev. Sylvanus Palmer
chaired the meeting and Phineas Cadwell served as Clerk. After numerous sessions
and discussions the format for the Articles of Faith and Covenant were agreed
upon, and in the summer of 1805 the founding members formally approved and
pledged to uphold the principles set forth in these documents.
At Quality Hill, Madison Co., NY
The records of this church include the names of members during the years
1804-1818. Most of those names also appear in and in the Records of the Lenox
Congregational Church 1822-1860 and the Lenox Congregational Society Minutes
1810-1898. Thus it seems that this early church record marks the beginning of
the Lenox Congregational Church at Quality Hill.
A church society officially named the “Congregational Society of Sullivan” was
formally incorporated on 3 June 1806 and is probably associated with this same
church. Phineas Cadwell, Moses H. Cook, Edward Lewis Jr., and Jacob Phelps
signed the incorporation document recorded in “Incorporation of Religious
Societies”, Vol. I, p. 1. That document named Edward Lewis Jr., Sylvanus Smalley
and John Hills as trustees. After the Town of Lenox was created from the Town of
Sullivan in 1809, this organization was apparently known for a brief time as
“The Lenox Religious Society.”
During the spring of 1810 the Lenox Religious Society and the Congregational
Society of Sullivan merged to form “The Lenox Congregational Society.” The
Sullivan society involved in the merger seems to have been associated with a
church located in the Boston/Canaseraga area founded in 1807. Recently elected
Deacons, Nathaniel Hall and John Hall, filed the incorporation document recorded
in the “Incorporation of Religious Societies” Vol. 1, p. 7- 8 on 9 May 1810.
The joint society decided to share pastoral services, and on 22 Aug 1810 Rev.
Ira M. Olds was installed as the minister of both churches. His ministry with
the church in the Town of Sullivan ended in 1817 when that church was disbanded,
but he remained as the pastor of the Lenox Congregational Church until he was
relieved of his responsibilities by the Onondaga Presbytery on 11 Apr 1832.
The Lenox Congregational Church erected a house of worship on the eastern end of
the Quality Hill green circa 1814-1819 with the first recorded use of the
building taking place on 8 Mar 1819. Religious services were conducted in that
edifice until 1903. Standing vacant for a number of years, the church was torn
down circa 1930.
Today two historic markers stand along NY SR 5 south of the former church
location, bearing witness to events that occurred during the nearly century long
history of the Lenox Congregational Church. One marker commemorates the drilling
of the horse artillery on the green during the War of 1812. The other marker, a
reminder of the strong abolitionist sentiment in Madison Co., commemorates the
gathering that took place within the church, where several members banded
together to found the Lenox Anti-Slavery Society in 1836.
Sandra B. Wilsey - 2012
Information and lists extracted from the Lisle Collection #R0112, Sub Group C,
Series VIII, Box 28, Items 73a and 74, at the Boston Congregational Church
Library, Boston, MA, copies of which are located in the Canastota Library,
Canastota, NY, and Lisle Collection #R0112, Sub Group C, Series XIX, Box 29,
item 91 at the Boston Congregational Church Library, Boston, MA.
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