The ideas below are the sort of things that run through my head at odd times, often when totally stymied and wondering what direction to take next in this never-ending endeavor. Early on in my personal genealogical quest I mused to myself that "leads could come from tracking down the ministers who buried and married my ancestors." Finding out more about the men who performed a baptism, marriage or burial could help focus my search for churches where other baptisms or burials took place. Realistically, using this tactic would be beyond my own personal efforts time-wise, and have its drawbacks. For instance:
A specific event might have taken place in the faith of one person's spouse, or another family member on either side.
Many revivals took place in upstate New York in the 19th century, resulting in changing religious affiliations for some individuals, even within a nuclear family.
In Wayne County and its immediate environs, many early ministers rode circuit or spent short service at a location. If there was no permanent church building, records could have been haphazardly kept.
As far as the man himself, if traced to his final resting place, his records might or might not have been taken over by someone else, eventually gone into a bonfire or dumpster, or been preserved.
A minister who gave a good sermon could gather around him a loyal congregation - but if he passed away or moved to another place, the individual or family might again change affiliation.
However, as some families actually followed a minister when he moved on, tracing him could lead to the whereabouts of other relatives who "disappeared" or explain why a group of neighbors left for a distant place together. Conversely, his prior residence could explain an influx of new residents. Tracking the ministers would be a daunting task but well worth the effort.
Last summer I decided in earnest to test some of these ideas and pull names from the resources that the Office of the County Historian made available to my co-coordinator Allyn. Contributing editor Tena Hanna assisted by abstracting names from the 1849 marriage lists and the gazetteer directories. I set up the table format and added names spotted in other gaz directories, obits and articles, and later added resources contributed to our site by Harold DeBrine and James Ryan (Rose Town Historian). Because of other projects and the need to code and maintain this site, my off-on progress was put on indefinite hiatus until December. Contributing editor Patti Norton abstracted names from the 1848 and 1850 marriage records and the profiles of Arcadia, Galen, & Savannah and abstracted all of the ministers from our cemeteries lists through 1/8/99. Leola Crane Sutton was able to gather the names of all Butler Center Methodist Church ministers over a 60 year span. On 3/14/99 further information was added from the book "Churches and Pastors of Seneca County, N.Y." (mainly info about M.E. and Baptist ministers). And so the Wayne County Ministers Project is moving forward and the first efforts are being presented to you.
Those of us directly involved to date think that the Wayne County Ministers Project will eventually be of enormous value to Wayne County and other area Finger Lakes researchers. Reading the locations of some of these ministers, you'll understand that it's a given that the breadth of our coverage must necessarily extend beyond our borders to surrounding Finger Lakes counties, whose ministers performed services for your Wayne County ancestors. We hope you'll find these listings personally helpful and will refer and contribute to them often.
The Wayne County Ministers Project will be three-fold.
Part 1 lists the ministers' names culled from our online records and your contributions. The goal is to try to determine the affiliation, and other information, of all of the ministers listed. If you have some spare time, please check out what you have at home. Have you seen mention of any of these men in your family obits, on marriage certificates, or in another resource? Do you have the names of ministers we don't have? If so, please contact me so that I can post their affiliation. Your info will benefit many other researchers. Likewise, another person's contribution may benefit your own search.
Part 2 of the project consists of adding more information about area ministers whom we're able to find more extensive information in books, naming other places they served, and where they ended their careers. Ideally, the latter information, which will encompass many decades of service, could lead to records being located in other counties or states - if records have survived. Extra information will be added within each man's entry in the listings.
Part 3 would list, for the record, others who performed marriages - justices of the peace, attorneys and local officials. As these men were more likely to have remained stationary within an area no attempt will be made to follow their careers. Since August 1998, and it's now March 2003, we haven't had any information added for non-ministers.
If you've read this far along, I beg your pardon for my rambling. I'm not a professional historian but the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with you in some semblance of substance is very exciting. I invite all of you to participate and share in the growth of the Wayne County Ministers Project. With your input we'll find our ancestors' church affiliation in a place and time, leading to further documentation of life's passages and milestones - birth, marriage and death.
Continue to List of Ministers, Surnames A - L
Continue to List of Ministers, Surnames M - Z
Wayne County Historical Articles Section