Little church histories are so often more than that—they are snapshots of specific places in specific times, of course, but the “granular” view they offer of local communities provides insight into the larger historical milieu. They are microcosmic, and interesting to locals, genealogists, and historians alike.
This centennial history of Livonia, NY’s First Presbyterian Church is an excellent example. The introduction covers much ground, including a recap (and detailed program) of the events of the three-day celebration, “shout outs” to the folks responsible for making it happen, and regret over the lack of space to include all the addresses given and letters sent (although a list of senders is included). What does make it into the record, though, is gold, beginning with a succinct “Historical Paper” on the church—from its founding on Dec. 29, 1806 by 17 faithful souls as the Second Congregational Church of Pittstown (Livonia’s original name), through its noteworthy members, organization, governance, and buildings over the years. The current church, built in 1832, is noted for being “the very first building in town that, up to that date, ever was raised without having liquor.” Other sections deal more specifically with “The Woman’s Missionary Society,” “The King’s Daughters,” and Sunday School (started in 1818 as the Catechetical Society of Livonia). The slightly more general “Reminiscences of the Village and Presbyterian Church of Livonia, NY” is a skillful attempt by Rev. S.W. Pratt (a native of Livonia, then at Campbell, NY) to “re-inhabit the village and the church for the benefit of the present generation and those to come, to tell some things about the fathers which may help us to live worthy of such ancestry.” Of Livonia itself he writes, “It is an honor to have been born here; it was a good town to live in; it would be a good town from which to go to heaven.”
This tidy little volume finishes up with a list of the names of those 17 charter members and chronological lists of the church’s ministers, deacons, and elders throughout its history.
This work, first published in 1906, is reprinted by Milne Library at the State University of New York College at Geneseo as part of the Genesee Valley Historical Reprints series. The Genesee Valley Historical Collection is Milne Library’s largest and most accessible collection of local history materials. Its geographical scope covers the eight counties surrounding the Genesee River in New York State: Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben and Wyoming. For more information, see: http://go.geneseo.edu/gvhr.