Old Fluvanna

Ellicott, Chautauqua County, NY

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Samuel Whittemore, was one of the prime movers in the first religious organization in Fluvanna, which dates back to Sept. 29, 1834 when the first Christian Church under Rev. Elder Oliver Barr, pastor, was organized, when eight persons joined.

When this church was organized in 1834 there were a number of members baptized in Chautauqua Lake. Among those were Mr. and Mrs. Ensign Hale, Nathaniel Smith, Walter Simmons and others. For years they worshipped in the little old school house with its slab benches for seats, but the time came when they desired a house for worship, and the way seemed to open. A plan was drawn up and divided into thirty-four shares. Mr. Whittemore took his horse and cutter, going from house to house until all were engaged. He was determined to break down the middle walls of partition, giving a chance alike to the Christian, the Methodist, Baptist, Universalist and the world man, to have a seat in the house of worship.

This society was incorporated as the "Religious Union Society of Fluvanna," dated Feb. 1, 1842. Signed by Alexander Brown, Jr. and W. H. Atherly on the 21st of February, 1842. A deed of the plot of ground south of the burying ground was drawn up by Henry Strunk of Ellicott of the first part and John Griffith of Ellery, James Lee and Thomas Saunders of Ellicott, Trustees of the Religious Union Society of Fluvanna, of the other part. That same year, 1842, a church was erected at a cost of $1,000. and seated two hundred and fifty persons. The pastors were Rev. E. T. Warner and A. S. Isangdon. When it was dedicated it was all paid for, leaving no lingering indebtedness to future generations. The church was built by Asher and Norman Simmons, the two oldest sons of Jacob Simmons, who was a son of Jonas Simmons.

Elder Barr preached in the little old schoolhouse 1834-35, as did Elder Beardsley, Elder Bailey, Elder Bullock, Elder Halliday, Elder Church, Elder Skeeles, and these were of Christian denomination. Ensign Hale was one of the deacons. The Methodists were Elder Swazee, Elder Moon and Elder Himebaugh. Elder Trumbell was a Baptist. When this church became unfit for them, by neglect and failure to keep in repair, a new edifice was needed for worship. There not being enough members of any one denomination to build a church, an agreement was reached whereby the present church was started in 1890. It was finished in the early summer of 1891 at a cost of $1,800. It was called The Union Free Church and was dedicated July 19, 1891, by the Rev. Dr. A. A. Albertson, pastor of the First M. E. Church of Jamestown.

The frame of the old building was used in its construction. It was moved a little east from where it stood originally. It is now called the "Fluvanna Community Church." The pastor at the present time, 1925, is the Rev. Benjamin. H. Morey. There are services every Sunday afternoon. There is a large attendance at the Sabbath School and a Young People's Society has been organized with a membership of 40. Ed Marker was chosen President. A bright prospect is before them. Much credit is due the Rev. Mr. Morey for his untiring efforts in behalf of the church.

A strip of land on the east side of the church property was purchased in 1883, as follows: "Riley G. Clark and Eveline, his wife, to Alex Bentley, Gilbert Strunk, Aaron A. Haskins, Daniel Rhodes, and Alexander Griffith in trust that said premises shall be used, kept, maintained and disposed of as a place of Divine Worship, for the use of the minister and membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America, subject to the discipline, usage and ministerial appointments of said church as from time to time authorized and declared by the general conference of said church, and the annual within whose bounds the said premises are situate. Warranty Deed, Aug. 15, 1883. Consideration $100."

Sheds were built upon this piece of land. They were destroyed by a hard wind and snow and for several years there was no place for horses. In 1912 a committee was appointed from the Fluvanna Equal Franchise League to solicit funds for new sheds. Enough funds were secured, not only to build new sheds, but to purchase a plot of dry ground upon which to build them. The committee was Mrs. Edna McCusker, Miss Ophelia Griffith and Mrs. Jessie Strunk. Their work was well and faithfully performed.

*From the Early History of Fluvanna, Chautauqua County, NY by Betty Sherwin.
(No copyright date)

Jamestown Post Journal 3/21/1983. Former Fluvanna Church Becomes Youth Center....An atmosphere of rejoicing prevailed as members of Fluvanna Community Church planned to move into their new sanctuary, but a soul-searching question loomed in the background: "What would become of their former church home, the 100-year-old landmark to which they had been so attached?"

Spirits were dampened by the thought that the building might be torn down or used for non-religious activities.
Fluvanna Community's youth leaders weren't about to let that happen. They went to the church board with the proposal to transform the beloved building into a community youth center.

It was a suggestion that the board couldn't turn down.

The "Youth Center" sign in front of the old white building is testimony to Fluvanna Community Church's desire to reach out to all young people.

The worn building and the spiffy new sanctuary a short distance down the road form a stark contrast, but Christ-centered ministries are equally at home in both structure.

The sanctuary in the old church has been transformed into a basketball and volleyball court and could be used for family-oriented activities for church members and the community. The former stage has been walled in to create a game room that houses equipment for pool, bumper pool, and foosball. The basement contains another game room, a weight room, lounge, kitchen and Bible study area.

The youth center is a magnet for many young people Sunday evenings, after the worship service at the new Fluvanna Community Church down the road.

SOURCE: Loraine Smith, Town of Ellery Historian. 2002.