Historical Sketch of the
Cherryville Baptist Church
Prepared by Hiram Edmund Deats (1899)
I cannot do better than to begin by quoting from the sketch of the Church prepared by Pastor T. S. Griffiths and read at the meeting of the Central New Jersey Baptist Association held with us October twenty sixth, 1882.
“We imagine that in the future and final review of human lives and of human affairs, the unwritten histories of men and of their doings will be found to be of more value and of vastly greater moment than the highest estimate we had made of the men and of their works, which, though it dazzled the eye, charmed the ear and thrilled the nerves, will then be seen to have been only the scaffolding of their life work. The bread we eat had been an aversion but for the little leaven, of which it gives no sign. The hued waters, leaking from the cracks of the earth waste away valueless, yet they index the ores hidden out of sight. We record the organization of Churches and the names of their constituents as matters of importance, but scarce note that the event memorializes a birthhour of interests of vastly greater value than even those of that sublime moment in the material creation, when God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.
“Whence are such as are here today? And how come they with common convictions of truth, so contestant with the general teachings of Christendom? A part of the minorities so patient and true under reproach and persecution, so steady and invincible in their own time and place; holding for God, for men, and for the time to come, the truth as the truth is in Jesus?
“The seed of these songs and prayers and ministers of this Church, and of the unending lines of influence which we are tracing today, widening and deepening as they crowd out from their starting point, was as a mustard seed, the least of all seeds.
“One hundred and thirty-five years ago, two men gave a lot of ground for a Baptist Meeting House in the then wilderness, but now known as the corner of Main and Church streets in Flemington. A House of Worship was built on it. After a while a Church was formed and Pastors ministered there, and forty-five years of varying interest elapsed.
“Eighty-eight years since (1812), Charles Bartolette came to preach, for one year, as an experiment, to the discouraged and feeble Church and he labored with them as their Pastor for Thirty-four years. Some here still active in the vineyard and ripening for glory, cherish his memory and speak of his endowments of wisdom and of strength with which he trained men and women to be pillars in the House of God. Intrenched by his convictions in the Calvinistic formula of Divine Truth he dispensed no milk and water diet nor beat about point to point in his ministrations, and was by reason of his embedment in the doctrines of the Divine Sovereignty a man of an eminently practical missionary spirit. Hunterdon and the adjacent regions felt his presence and his power.
“He traversed all this section preaching in private houses, baptizing converts and planting the seed of Churches. And we this day and thus make mention of him as the man of God to whom more than to any other the Cherryville church owes its origin.”
Occasional sermons were also preached in this region by other ministers, among whom Bro. Thomas Barras is remembered. At its February meeting in 1849, the Board of the State Convention appointed a Missionary, Rev. Edwin R. Hera, to labor in this field. He began his work on the eighth of April, making Cherryville the center of his operations. Within six months, forty-nine members were enrolled as Constituents of a Church. A lot of ground containing sixty-six hundredths of an acre was given by David Everitt as his share of the expense of building the church. The deed for it is dated February ninth, 1850, and is recorded in Vol. 96, page 202, of Deeds, for this County.
The Minute Book of this Church is full of blanks during its early years. There is evidence that its business meetings were held quite regularly during the first few years of its existence, but the Clerks apparently thought that it was not important that a record of their doings be preserved. I have deemed it better to treat the subject chronologically as a whole, rather than by subject.
On the second of October, 1849, forty-four persons met in the house on the corner, now occupied by Brother Asa Case, Rev. Edwin R. Hera being Chairman, and Hiram Deats, Secretary. Resolutions were passed to the effect that it was deemed both proper and expedient that a Baptist Church be organized in this vicinity and as a majority of those present were members of the Flemington Church, this letter was prepared, signed, and addressed to that Church.
“For some years past our minds have been directed to the establishing of a separate Baptist Church in the vicinity of Quakertown; but not till recently have incipient measures been taken to effect the long contemplated object, And we now firmly believe the time has arrived when God in his providence calls upon us to raise the standard of the cross at Cherryville.
“In view of this we, the undersigned do most respectfully ask for our letters of dismission to form a distinct organization. And as in days past we have taken sweeter counsel together, the recollection of it will often occupy our thought in our future reflective hours, and as the memory of the past thrills our souls it will lead us to a throne of heavenly grace on your behalf.
“And as the changes of our pilgrimage are various we most earnestly solicit your prayers that our heavenly Father guide us into all truth, and that this separation may redound to His honor and glory. We do most affectionately invite you to participate in our meetings, and we shall feel a pleasure in accepting the same privilege from you. And may the God of all grace bless and prosper you, that saints may be edified, the afflicted comforted and sinners converted to the glory of His name.”
John D. Bowne
William J. Bowne
Elizabeth Ann Case
Mary Jane Case
James P. Gary
Ann Mariah McPherson
Catharine Ann Rockafellow
William S Rockafellow
William B. Smith
Wm. R. Young
Sarah Ann Yawger.
The following were the Constituent members
Joseph G. Case
Joseph B. Pierson.
Hannah Ann Brown.