Below are images of the first forty years of the session records of First Presbyterian Church of Allegan. These records are from 1836- 1866. We hope to upload more images soon. If you are looking for something specific in your genealogical or historical research, please let us know, because we do have images of all of those documents and can make them available to you. Our original historical documents are now archived with the Presbyterian Historical Society in Louisville KY in a climate controlled environment.
We thank Kevin Burton, a theological historian who has been kind enough to transcribe the first five pages of our session records during his recent research. These records include a brief history of the beginnings of our congregation in 1836 and 1837:
Sessional Records and other Facts relative to the
First Presbyterian Church, Allegan Mich.
Allegan Oct. 12, 1837.
According to public notice, a meeting of the Session was held at house of Rev. L. Lyons—opened with prayer. Present: Rev. L. Lyons, Modr.
Messrs. Silas Littlejohn & A. L. Ely, Elders.
The following preamble and resolution were offered and adopted: Whereas the records of this session have not been made according to constitutional prescription, therefore Resolved that the following narrative be entered on our records, which embodies the doings of this session, since the formation of this church, and also other facts in connection with the church.
On the 2d of June 1834 Messrs. Elisha Ely and Joel Pomroy, members of the First Presbyterian Free Church, Rochester, N. Y., W. Leander, S. Prouty & Mr. Prouty, and Mr. John Hoyt landed at this place from the river and commenced a settlement. In the month of August following Mr. Alexander L. Ely from Rochester, arrived and made one of the family. The summer and fall were spent in preparing for winter, clearing land, building a log house, and obtaining provisions. So preparations were made during the winter for building saw mills [sic]. In September 1835 two other families had arrived and built temporary dwellings. Messrs. Ely, Hoyt, Prouty & Mr. Prouty for several months were the only inhabitants. Religious meetings were held regularly every sabbath during the first year with occasional preaching from ministers of different denominations. The second family arrived in June 1835, at which time the Rev. Wm. Jones came to this place and was employed to preach as a stated supply at least for one year. He commenced his labors in September 1835, at which time the Rev. Luke Lyons, partner of the Presbyterian Free Church Rochester, was invited to become the pastor of the church as some as one might be formed. The population slowly increased and by the first of January 1836 amounted to several families and in November [Page 2] numbered upwards of 500. Many of them however were only residents for the time being, employed as workmen upon the mills or engaged in making preparations to reside upon their farms. A request was presented to the Presbytery of St. Joseph’s for a church to be organized and the Rev. Silas Woodbury and Rev. Wm. Jones were appointed a committee to fulfill the request. For this purpose on the 23rd of April 1836 the committee called a meeting at the house of Mr. William Jenner as no house of public worship was then finished. One was then in forwardness and in a few days after it was completed on the 6th of May 1836 it was accidentally destroyed by fire. The meeting at Mr. Jenner’s on the 23rd of April was organized, Rev. Wm. Jones was Moderator and A. L. Ely was Clerk. After singing and prayer, it was Resolved to organize a Presbyterian church. The committee after examining the letter of recommendation and dismission from there presented, and listening to the statement of views and feelings upon the motion of a church and experimental piety, proceeded regularly to constitute a church, adopting the confession of Faith & Discipline of the Presbyterian church in these United States, and said church embraced the following members:
Alexander L. Ely from the First Presbyterian Free church Rochester, N. Y.
Julia S. Austin from the First Presbyterian church Rochester, N. Y.
John Littlejohn from the Presbyterian church Haight, N. Y. Ruling Elder & Deacon
Silas Littlejohn do. do. do. do.
William C. Jenner & wife
Sarah Jenner 2d from the 1st Presbyterian Church Detroit
William Jenner 2d formerly from the 1st Presbyterian Free church Rochester, N. Y.
Thomas C. Jenner
Messrs. Silas Littlejohn and Alexander L. Ely were elected ruling Elders, and John Littlejohn was elected Elder & Deacon and the inaugural service were [sic] performed by the committee of Presbytery.
Ms. Mary A. W. Ely was examined and received as a member of this church. She was baptized the next day, April 24th, when the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered. Previous to the administration of this ordinance a meeting of the session was held, the elders above [Page 3] named were present, Rev. Wm. Jones presided as moderator and the following members were admitted upon certificate: George Y. Warner from the Presbyterian chh. Tallahasse [sic], Mrs. Hannah Winslow from the congregational church in Middletown, Vt., Mrs. Mary Ann Littlejohn from the Presbyterian Chh. Haight, N. Y., Mr. Milo Winslow was also received upon examination.
A meeting of the session was held August 13th 1836 when the same moderator and Elders were present who have already been named. After prayer the following persons were received upon certificate as members of this church: Mr. Philo B. Littlejohn ruling Elder, his wife Mary J. Littlejohn, Mrs. Katherine Littlejohn, wife of John Littlejohn, and daughter Eliza Littlejohn from the Presbyterian church Haight, N. Y., Mr. Gavin McCoy and Mrs. Martha McCoy from the Laight Street Church New york [sic], Miss Rachel Amelia McCoy from the West Presbyterian Chh. Newyork [sic] a Carmine Street church, Mr. Howey K. Clarke from the Congre. Church Cana[n]daigua, N. Y., and Mr. Benjamin Colburn and Almina Colburn from the First Presbyterian Free Chh. Rochester, N. Y., Miss Maria Constantine from the Pruich church Rochester, N. Y., Mr. Jonathan P. Austin, Miss Harriet Peckham, and Mrs. Caroline Brigham were received upon examination. On the sabbath Aug. 14 the Lord’s Supper was administered and Miss Sarah G. Brigham was examined by the session and admitted a member of the church. She was baptized and recd the sacramental supper upon a sick bed. She died having a comfortable evidence of a happy exchange Sept. 30th 1836. Aged 19 years.
According to previous notice a meeting # of the church was held October 21st 1836, when it was unanimously voted to invite the Rev. Luke Lyons of Rochester to become our pastor and that the Elders and Trustees be a committee to prosecute the call. He arrived and commenced his labors July 1st 1837 and on account of some informality a meeting of the church and society was regularly notified to be held Aug. 24, 1837. Said meeting was held in the house of worship, Rev. Augustus Littlejohn was invited and presided as moderator, Mr. A. L. Ely Clerk and the call for Mr. Lyons to become the pastor was constitutionally prepared and [Page 4] a committee we appointed to present the name to Presbytery. At this time the society occupy a very comfortable house for public worship, the same house which is occupied for a school and a Courthouse 40 feet by 26 with a cupola and bell. At this time July 1st the church consisted of 41 members.
A meeting of the session was held January 28th 1837, Elder Littlejohn and Ely were present and the Rev. Augustus Littlejohn, who had supplied this society with preaching a few weeks, presided as moderator and the following persons were received as members, Mr. Peter N. Higginbotham from the Presby. Chh. Painted Post, N. Y., Mr. James M. Thomas and Mrs. Clarissa Thomas from the Presby. Chh. Angelica, N. Y., Mr. Albert West and Mrs. Malvina West from the Presby. Binghamton, N. Y., Mrs. Frances T. Jones wife of Rev. Wm. Jones from the Presby. Chh. White Pigeon, Duncan W. Martin from the Presby. Chh. Johnstown, N. Y. On the sabbath Jan. 29, Charles P. Austin, infant son of Mr. Jotham Austin was baptized and the Lord’s Supper was administered.
Previous to the first sabbath in May the Rev. George W. Elliot had been employed for 3 months as a stated supply. On that sabbath a meeting of Session was held and Mr. Elliot presided as moderator when the following persons were received as members of this church: Mr. David Emerson and Mrs. Hannah Emerson from the Congregational Chh. Plainfield, N. H., Aaron Parkinson from the chh. in Springville, Nathan West from the Presby. Chh. Binghamton, N. Y., Mr. Philander Leonard from the Brick Chh. Rochester, N. Y., James R. Prickett an Indian was admitted on examination which was cheerfully sustained, Mrs. Mary Jane Littlejohn died July 4, 1837, aged 26 years and Mrs. Caroline Bringham died July July 22, 1837, aged 38 years.
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
July 29, 1837. A meeting according to previous notice was held by the session at the house of worship. It was opened and closed with prayer. Rev. L. Lyons presided as moderator, Messrs. Littlejohn and Ely Elders were present. Mr. A. L. Ely was appointed at the first meeting of the session to be the Clerk. The following persons were admitted as members upon certificate: Mr. Timothy West from the Presby. Chh. Binghamton, N. Y., Mr. Zachary Booth from the Presby. Chh. Weedsport, N. Y., [Page 5] Mrs. Roxanna Murry from the Free Congregational Chh. in Buffalo, N. Y., Mrs. Amelia Lyons wife of Rev. L. Lyons and Miss Lydia Hudson from the 1st Presby. Free Chh. Rochester, N. Y., Mrs. Charlotte E. Marsh from the Presby. Chh. Haight, N. Y., Mrs. Mary L. Bailey from the Brainard Presby. Newyork [sic], Mr. Jacob B. Bailey, Mr. Benjamin Atkins, Mrs. Mary E. Atkins, and Mrs. Harriet M. Johonvelt were admitted on examination. Mrs. Ruth E. Booth from the Presby. Chh. Creedsport. The following resolution was adopted by the Session that a meeting of the church be called for the election of one or more Elders and that all the members, both male and female, have privilege of voting. August 6th the following infants were baptized. Susan Josephine, infant of David Emerson, Lloyd Thomas, infant of James M. Thomas, James Rollin Littlejohn, infant of Philo Littlejohn, and Bredet Coridon Murry, infant of Roxanna Murry. The Lord’s Supper was administered.
The above narrative was adopted.
The following persons presented letters of dismission to be received as members of this chh.: Mr. Lorenso Winslow from the Congregational Chh. Pittsford, N. Y., Ornan D. Goodrich, M.D. and Mrs. Emeline Goodrich from the Presby. Chh. Huron O., Mr. Shankfred West from the Presby. Chh. Binghamton, N. Y., Mrs. Frances Boothe [sic] and wife Desire Booth from the Presby. Chh. Creedsport, N. Y., Mr. Charles Dickinson from the United ??? Chh. Demfire, U. C., Miss Angeline House from Presby. Chh. Gaten.
Adjourned, closed with prayer.
A. L. Ely, Clerk
In the Allegan Journal, June 5th, 1875 , page 3 column 1, there is a small notice about the contents of the cornerstone of the Presbyterian Church as it was being rebuilt after the temperance meeting incendiary fire of 1874 which destroyed the previous wooden building.
” –A copy each of THE JOURNAL and Democrat was placed in the cornerstone of the Presbyterian church. It is sad to think that one hundred or more years hence, when that stone may be opened, in each paper will be found a huge, illustrated circus advertisement.”
We believe that the cornerstone of the Presbyterian church that they are referring to was moved from the corner of the building when the steeple and front steps were added and that it is the one currently mounted prominently onto the steeple.