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About twenty years ago I was on a kick to locate Methodist church record holdings anywhere, which would relate to any of the Upstate New York Methodist Conferences, Circuits and Churches.
The reason that I was looking so hard was because of an Atlas on Religion in America that I saw in the Syracuse University Library, where it claimed that as of the year 1860, due to the itinerant preachers and their circuits, that 50 per cent of the people in the United State were recorded as being Methodists!
I have no way of knowing if that was true or not, but they had pie charts and graphs and it sounded plausible. So being the brilliant statistician that I am, I said “Hmmm…, well that means you have a 50/50 chance of finding your ancestors in a Methodist church record somewhere!” This genealogy thing seemed as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Ha!
So for a couple of years I scoured all of the conference archives, university holdings, libraries, and historical societies virtually all over the state. Guess what? I found the answer!
There is no one place for church records to be located. Too bad. The Methodist Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, other variants, and now the United Methodist Church, do have rules for recording church records, christenings, marriages and burials, however the rules were not adhered to.
I did locate quite a few of interest. For instance I discovered that there had been one little pocket notebook journal of a traveling circuit rider that had worked in Pompey, Onondaga County, as early as 1808.
That little notebook with newspaper clippings pasted all over the pages was located in the University of Chicago! Seems these records might have been thought to have belonged to the preacher that wrote them. Many of course are now lost forever. Some did migrate generally out into the upper mid-western states as the families followed the setting sun.
Well what we have to offer here is an Index that I made in 1989 of a little biography of a typical Circuit Rider, named Rev. Abner CHASE. The surname CHASE is one of my main lines so I purchased a copy of the book and read it through cover to cover, fairly droll reading, but it was of interest at the moment.
The book is titled, “Recollections of the Past, by Rev. Abner CHASE of the Genesee Conference.” – 1848. There was no index of any kind, so I combed through it and created one on an old Apple II computer data base. I no longer have the digital file, but I do have a printout of the index and have made pdf documents of just the index.
You can have your very own copy of this masterpiece by doing one of two things. All you have to do is subscribe by email to either of our Blogs, the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog at http://ny-genes.blogspot.com or our Genealogy Miscellanea Blog at http://genemisc.blogspot.com. There is an email subscription box on the Blog. I promise never to divulge your email address to any one else.
I will send you the index by email, and a BONUS download of the actual biography itself! No charge, no strings attached. We are just trying to increase our readership and this is about the best way we know. If you are already a subscriber, and I thank all of you who are, then just send me an email stating that you want the index and book download and I will send them to you.
You can’t beat free!
If the book and the index are not something that you need or want yourself, perhaps your local library or Family History Center might accept it as a donation.
A note to researchers that are going to ask where to find their ancestors Methodist records, all I can say is first start with the local church if active, and also check with the Conference Archives for that area. I’m sure you can Google the addresses up.
Oh in case you didn’t know it, you are supposed to insert your comments and questions at the bottom of each Blog message. C’mon people, don’t hold back. \grin/