The Candle Has Gone Out!
The Keeseville Baptist Church survived trials and tribulations since its inception in 1788 including rifts caused by the Anti-Masonic Movement, the Anti-Slavery Movement and the Civil War.
But it could not survive the deaths of members, immigration of young church members out West and the influx of “an alien element with an alien” faith, and the 1960s “turn on, tune in, drop out” counter culture.
On November, 16, 1952, Mr. O’Dell passed away.
He had been with us then continuously for thirty years. The church seemed to crumble at his passing. It floundered badly. No one seemed to know just which way to turn. It was thought for a time, and urged by some members of the church to unite with the Methodist Society. The propriety of it was searched and found not the answer to our problem. God seemed yet to have something more for us to do.
During the winter and fall of 1953 and spring of 1954, Mrs. Margaret Turner, wife of Rev. Ralph Turner of the Baptist Church in Plattsburgh was the stated supply.
During this time several meetings were held in an attempt to ascertain as to whether we could be financially responsible enough to call a minister. Some of our most helpful members, financially, had left at the time of Mr. O’Dell’s death.
We were considered a “dying church.”
Had it not been that there are still a very few whose “roots” are so deep in this old institution that to give up, seemed impossible.
"The candle seems to be flickering"
ROBERT W. THURSTON
At times, it seems as in former years, that our little band must dissolve but by the Grace of God, the candle will still shine on. Rev. Robert W. Thurston and his wife, “Penny,” will return after an absence of nearly two and one-half years, Jan. 15, 1967. The Candle lit in 1791 still shines on!
It was with sincere regret that Rev. Thurston left us October 1, 1967 to take charge of the First Baptist Church of New London, N.H. Not since the days of Rev. R. S. O’Dell has the old Baptist Church had a pastor who gave his time and energy to the Church and the life of the community. He gave to all, regardless of class, color or creed unstintingly.
The candle seems to be flickering. The old Church has been through many a crisis and has somehow over come them all. May God bless our efforts and aid us in keeping the candle burning on!
As we look back across the years, the old Baptist Church has had a memorable history; sustained many a crisis. But as with humans, the vim and vigor wanes and the sunset of life comes and the sun goes down. So it is with old churches!
In reading over a letter from Rev. Conant Sawyer, a pastor from 1828-1840, he wrote of the early years, “The revivals in those days were of the most interesting character: those who gathered into the church were from the best families connected with the congregation, they gave abundant evidence of a deep growth of grace in their hearts’ they were able to “give reason for the hope that was in them.”
These members have left a noble record. It is descendants of these old families that are now mourning with great pain, the death of our beloved church. Their roots go down deep, like an old elm, the tap root as far down as the height of the tree.
Even as we close the doors on the past forever, with Dr. Sawyer we will hope that “the influence of the old Keeseville Baptist Church will still be felt far and wide, pure as the air of our (your) own mountains, and refreshing as the streams which descend from their lofty summits.”
The Requiem: “We have fought a good fight, we have finished the course, and have kept the faith.”
The Candle has gone out!
Source: The History of the First Baptist Church of Keeseville, N.Y. 1788-1968 by Eleanor A. Spaulding, Church Historian, under the Auspices of the Baptist Ladies Guild, January 1, 1959, pgs. 83-84.
MOUNTAIN LAUREL by Billie Allen
Maurice Turner of Keeseville sent me this interesting article on the Old Baptist Church building on Front Street, which was built in 1851 and demolished this summer: "About nine o'clock on Friday morning, July 11, the wreckers came with their equipment, and before early evening the building was a massive pile of rubble.
Before the tower was demolished, the 1830 bronze bell which was made in Massachusetts, was removed on request of the former church board. In the early evening, a young man found a bottle which had been placed in the north front corner of the foundation.
The bottle contained several Keeseville newspapers from July 1851. The bottle rolled out on the ground when the wall was broken through. I haven’t as yet seen the papers which no doubt have information concerning the dedication, which took place July 9, 1851.
My brother, Joe Turner, saw the bottle which he said resembled a canning jar. He then started probing in the broken foundation and found another bottle which I now have. In this green glass quart-sized bottle are three scrolls which were rolled firmly to about the size of a pencil. The bottle was corked and sealed with sealing wax.
Two of the scrolls pertained to the dedication. One of the scrolls contained new nails made by Kingsland nail works of Keeseville. The penmanship on the dedication scrolls was nicely done and easily read. I had copies made for my collection.”Source: Mountain Laurel by Billie Allen. Essex County Republican, News, Friday, September 12, 1969.