First Baptist Church (Cohoes, N.Y.)
Records, ca. 1839-1977

SC23338

Quantity: 15 boxes (5.0 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift; American Baptist Churches of New York State, June 2015
Processed By: Regina Berry, Student Assistant, State University of New York at Albany, June 2015

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Historical Note:

After several years of holding informal meetings in their homes, the Baptists of the small community of Cohoes, New York, determined it was time to form their own church. The First Baptist Church Society was formed in Cohoes on May 5, 1839, with 24 members. The first pastor was Rev. John Duncan, who had come from the Stillwater [N.Y.] Church. The first church building was completed in 1840 and served for ten years, until its location was needed for building a mill.  In 1850, a perpetual lease was secured for the lot at 147 Mohawk Street and a new church erected. By 1872 there was need of more space to hold the growing congregation. The church building was enlarged and a spire added. Over the next two decades the church grew rapidly, so that by the late 1890s another renovation was needed to provide even more space.  he cornerstone was laid on August 30, 1899 and the “new” church was dedicated on May 15, 1900.

By the time of the church’s 75th Anniversary in 1914, church membership was approximately 550, and there had been 22 pastors. There was a Sunday School, a ladies’ aid society, a men’s Bible study group, known as “The Baraca,” a Philathea class, and the B.Y.P.U. (Baptist Young People’s Union).

In 1922, when the church building was found to be in an unsafe condition, all services and meetings had to be temporarily relocated. The rebuilding of 1922-1923 cost nearly $45,000. Some of the funds were raised by subscription, but a sizable mortgage was also incurred. Church membership declined significantly between 1928 (543 members) and 1944 (321 members).

In 1939 the church celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a week-long series of events, including special services, meetings, a pageant and a Friday evening banquet.  Several hundred current and former church members, as well as members of the wider community, attended.

Through the 1950s and 1960s additional repairs and improvements to the building were made and payments on the mortgage continued. However, by the early 1970s costs were beginning to outstrip income, membership was falling, and there was talk of merging with another church. On June 20, 1976, members were called to the annual meeting to discuss discontinuing Sunday worship services as of September 1, 1976. Twenty-four members attended and the motion to close the church passed. Over the next few months arrangements were made to sell the church building and other property and to help members unite with other churches. The Baptist Temple of Cohoes, Inc. purchased the church building for $11,000 on December 31, 1976. The First Baptist Church of Cohoes officially closed on January 5, 1977. 

Scope and Content Note:

The records of the First Baptist Church of Cohoes, N.Y., provide a fairly complete history of the church from its founding in 1839 to its closure in 1977. Much of the information is contained in bound volumes which vary in size. These provide comprehensive minutes of the regular, special and annual meetings of the church trustees, as well as of the church council, advisory board, Sunday school and the ladies aid society. Meeting minutes document the general business operations of the church, selection of church officials, financial reports of the treasurer and issues surrounding the changes to the physical church building at various points in its history.

Church history is documented in several items in the collection.  The Church Record Book of 1864-1879 contains a short handwritten history (Box 2, Folder 3), while printed histories are included in a newspaper article from 1883 (Box 12, Folder 8), the 1904 Manual of the First Baptist Church of Cohoes, N. Y. (Box 13, Folder 7), The First Baptist Church Cohoes, New York, History and Directory, 1914 (Box 13, Folder 9) and The First Baptist Church of Cohoes, New York: A Brief History, 1939 (Box 14, Folder 16).

Several of the bound church record books contain alphabetical lists of church members, sometimes including the date they joined the church and the date they left or died. Member lists are also in the History and Directory of 1914, mentioned above; the directory of 1918 (Box 13, Folder 10) and the list of active members of 1947 (Box 13, Folder 13).

Quite a few church members left bequests and endowments to the church between 1929 and 1972. Details of these by individual name can be found in Box 14. 

No early financial records are included, but from 1895 to 1977 church finances are documented in several account books and cash books, as well as unbound reports and records from the last few years of the church’s existence (Box 13). Documents relating to the dissolution of the church in 1976-1977 contain the financial records of that process (Box 14, Folders 25 and 26).

The centennial celebration in 1939 was a high point in the church’s history and there is significant material documenting the event, including over 30 letters in reply to the invitation to attend.

Photographs include interior and exterior views of the church in different eras; several events including the centennial celebration; and portraits of some pastors and members from the 1800s.

Lastly, the records include some material related to other Baptist organizations, notably the annual meeting programs from the Hudson River Baptist Association North, from 1917 to 1946, of which First Baptist Church of Cohoes was a member organization.

Container List:


Part I: Bound Volumes

Box Volume Description
    Church Record and Minute Books, 1839-1977
1 1 Church Minutes and Register of Members, 1839-1877 (ca. 400 p.; 34 cm.)
  1. Minutes, April 29, 1839-May 29, 1854
  2. Register, April 29, 1839-May 20, 1877
1 2 Church Minutes and Treasurer’s Reports, February 13, 1855-November 16, 1899 (360 p.; 36 cm.)
2 3 Church Record Book, 1864-1879 (ca. 500 p.; 34 cm.)
  1. Brief history of the church
  2. Minutes, August 29,1864-June 1, 1871
  3. Register, 1864-May 1879
2 4 Church Register, 1879-1888 (186 p.; 36 cm.)
  1. Alphabetical list of members
  2. List of Additions, June 19, 1879-March 8, 1888
  3. List of Diminutions, June 29, 1879-April 13, 1888
  4. Annual Statistics, 1880-1882
2 5 Church Record Book: Minutes, January 25, 1881-February 3, 1890
(286 p.; 35 cm.)
3 6 Church Record Book, 1884-1908 (ca. 500 p.; 35 cm.)
  1. Register, February 1884-April 16, 1908
  2. Minutes, December 31, 1888-June 4, 1908
  3. Annual Statistics, 1890-1907
3 7 Church Register, 1886-1903 (186 p.; 36 cm.)
  1. Official Register: Pastors, Clerks, Treasurers, Superintendents, Deacons, and Trustees, 1839-1906
  2. Alphabetical list of members
  3. List of Additions, January 24, 1886-February 15, 1903
  4. List of Diminutions, February 9, 1886-October 10, 1895
  5. Annual Statistics, 1888
4 8 Church Record Book: Minutes, November 20, 1899-March 3,1965
(400 p.; 36 cm.)
5 9 Church Record Book, 1908-1923 (ca. 400 p.; 35 cm.)
  1. Register, August 20, 1908-July 11, 1923
  2. Minutes, August 1, 1908-April 5, 1923
  3. Annual Statistics, 1913-1922
5 10 Church Record Book, 1923-1976 (ca. 400 p.; 35 cm.)
  1. Register, January 1, 1923-April 1, 1976
  2. Minutes, June 1, 1923-December 6, 1972
  3. Annual Statistics, 1923-1944
6 11 Church Roll and Record Book, 1974-1977 (ca. 200 p.; 28 cm.)
  1. Alphabetical list of contributing members as of July 1, 1974
  2. Minutes, May 19, 1974-January 5, 1977
6 12 Advisory Board Minutes, July 15, 1908-April 25, 1942 (200 p.; 35 cm.)
6 13 Church Council Minutes, May 23, 1946-September 22, 1974 (300 p.; 30 cm.)
7 14 Record Book of the Ladies Aid Society, 1893-1905 (200 p.; 25 cm.)
  1. Minutes, November 15, 1893-February 3, 1905
  2. Membership Lists, 1894-1905
7 15 Sunday School Minutes, September 9, 1918-November 30, 1925
(200 p.; 32 cm.)
7 16 Sunday School Minutes, September 23, 1935-January 31, 1949
(290 p.; 24 cm.)
7 17 Guest Book for 100th Anniversary Celebration, April 30, 1939 (152 p.; 27 cm.)
    Financial Record Books, 1895-1977
8 1 Financial Secretary’s Record Book, January 1895-September 1901
(ca. 225 p.; 52 cm.)
9 2 Cash Book, January 1, 1896-September 30, 1913 (252 p.; 40 cm.)
9 3 Expense Book, 1909 (170 p.; 33 cm.)
10 4 Journal of Treasurer’s Accounts, October 1, 1913-September 30, 1927
(800 p.; 36 cm.)
11 5 Church Financial Record and Statement Book (includes list of members) 1933 (ca. 250 p.; 33 cm.)
11 6 Cash Book of Receipts and Disbursements, November 1, 1936-June 14, 1950 (152 p.; 24 cm.)
11 7 Checkbook from Marine Midland Bank, January 15, 1976-September 21, 1977; check stubs for #4033-4177, blank checks for #4178-4602 
(24 x 36 cm.)

Part II: Photographs, Records and Correspondence

Box Folder Description
    Photographs, 1871-1939
12 1 Photographs of Church Members and Pastors, sent back to the church around 1939 by Mary Dickson Simons [or Simmons] who was a church member before moving west in 1890, ca. mid-1800s (14 items)
  1. Donor letter of explanation, n.d.
  2. CDV (carte de visite)-Rev. Lyman S Johnson (Pastor 1870-1878), 1876 (2 copies)
  3. CDV-Mrs. Lyman Johnson
  4. CDV-Mr. George Hutchins
  5. CDV-Burnett [?] Wright
  6. Cabinet Card-Rev. William R. Wright, D.D.
  7. Cabinet Card-Mrs. William R. Wright
  8. Cabinet Card-Bertha, Winnie & Julia Wright, [ca. 1882]
  9. Cabinet Card-Paul Holsapple
  10. Cabinet Card-Phoebe Swarthout
  11. Cabinet Card-Rev. Lyman Johnson, 1877
  12. Cabinet Card-John Henderson, Will Fahnestock, Charlie Moquin, Jim Butterworth, officers of Baraca Class
  13. CDV-unidentified man
12 2 Mounted Letter by G.W. Hutchins on organization of Sunday School, 1871
12 3 Photographs of “Old” First Baptist Church, 1872, 1876 (2 items)
12 4 Photographs of “New” First Baptist Church, 1900, 1910 (3 items)
12 5 Photograph of First Baptist Church, 1939 (2 items)
12 6 Photograph of First Baptist Church Interior, 1880
12 7 Photograph of First Baptist Church Interior, 1895
12 8 Mounted newspaper article on the history of First Baptist Church, 1883
12 9 Photograph of Choir Outing, 1890 (2 items)
12 10 Photograph of First Baptist Sunday School Rally Day, 1898
12 11 Photograph and Program of First Baptist Sunday School Rally Day, 1898
(2 items)
12 12 Ladies Aid Society Group Photograph (with names), n.d. (2 items)
12 13 Photograph of Rev. Judson C. Hendrickson on Children’s Day, 1910 (2 items)
12 14 Baraca Class Photograph, n.d. (names on reverse)
12 15 Baraca Group Photograph at 100th Anniversary Celebration, 1939 (names on reverse) (4 items)
12 16 Photographs from 100th Anniversary Celebration, 1939 (8 items)
12 17 Photograph of the Five Nuttall Brothers, n.d. (2 items)
    Church Records and Papers, 1888-1977
13 1 Constitution of First Baptist Church, n.d. (4 copies)
13 2 Newspaper clippings on “New” Church Building, 1898-1900 (8 items)
13 3 Poem: “The New Baptist Church,” by Samuel Nuttall, ca. 1899
13 4 Program of Services for the Corner Stone Laying and the Dedication, 1899, 1900 (2 items)
13 5 Various Event Programs and Invitation, 1888-1947 (7 items)
13 6 Program of Services, 1902-1916, 1976 (10 items)
13 7 Manual of the First Baptist Church of Cohoes, N. Y., 1904 (Cohoes, N.Y.: The Cohoes Republican Print)
13 8 Baraca Union Banquet Programs, 1904-1927 (8 items)
13 9 The First Baptist Church Cohoes, New York, History and Directory, James Henry Wilson, Editor, May 1914 (2 copies)
13 10 Directory, First Baptist Church, Cohoes, N.Y., 1918 (2 copies)
13 11 Secretary’s Reports, 1923-1924, n.d. (9 items)
13 12 Correspondence to Church Members, 1926, 1934, 1970-1976 (10 items)
13 13 List of Active Members of First Baptist Church, March 18, 1947, n.d. (3 items)
13 14 First Baptist Church Pipe Organ Reconstruction, 1956-1957 (5 items)
13 15 Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, December 1956-December 1959
(21 items)
13 16 Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, January 1960-January 1965 (25 items)
13 17 Sunday School Constitution and Related Papers, 1871, 1899, 1952, n.d.
(4 items)
13 18 Membership Transfer Letters and Papers, 1923-1924, 1972-1977 (5 items)
13 19 Letter of Dismission Forms (blank), n.d. (3 copies)
13 20 Obituary Reports and Newspaper Obituaries, 1922-1923, 1960-1976 (16 items)
    Financial Records and Papers, 1901-1977
13 21 Supreme Court Application to Mortgage Property, 1914
13 22 Bonds and Mortgages, 1923, 1938, 1956 (6 items)
13 23 Mortgage Certificates and Statements, 1927, 1948-1949 (4 items)
13 24 Treasurer’s Reports, printed, 1901, 1915-1919 (8 items)
13 25 Treasurer’s Reports, 1922-1923, 1932, 1947, 1960, 1976 (8 items)
13 26 Banking Records: Cohoes Savings Bank, Marine Midland Bank, 1945-1977
(4 items)
13 27 General Fund Financial Statements, 1969-1976
13 28 General Journal Accounts, 1970-1975
13 29 General Ledger Balance Sheets, 1971-1976
13 30 W2 Withholding Forms and Utility Costs for 1968
    Bequests and Endowments, 1929-1976
14 1 Endowment Fund List: Names and Amounts, n.d. (2 items)
14 2 Sarah Targett Endowment Papers, 1929-1949 (3 items)
14 3 Anna Reenan Endowment Papers, 1930-1936 (7 items)
14 4 Henry B. and Ada B. Hutchins Endowment Papers, 1931-1938 (3 items)
14 5 Addie Bedell Endowment Papers, 1931-1951 (5 items)
14 6 Bequest papers for the Estate of Anna L. Collamer, 1947 (5 items)
14 7 Bequest papers for the Estate of Mary Alice Chapman, 1956 (2 items)
14 8 Bequest papers for the Estate of Martha Stevens, 1956-1964 (7 items)
14 9 Bequest papers for the Estate of George W. Appleby, Sr., 1960-1961 (2 items)
14 10 Bequest papers for the Estate of Anna A. MacAffer, 1961 (1 item)
14 11 Bequest papers for the Estate of Stanley E. Targett, 1966-1967 (5 items)
14 12 Bequest papers for the Estate of Grace B. Mosley, 1968 (2 items)
14 13 Bequest papers for the Estate of M. Gertrude Groom, 1969 (1 item)
14 14 Bequest papers for the Estate of Lena M. Edmonds, 1969 (2 items)
14 15 Bequest papers for the Estate of Georgie F. Nicholls, 1972-1976 (7 items)
    Centennial Celebrations, 1909, 1939
14 16 The First Baptist Church of Cohoes, New York: A Brief History, Charles H. Coonrod and William G. McCann, Editors, 1939 (2 copies)
14 17 Photographic prints from “A Brief History,” 1939 (15 items)
14 18 Centennial Celebration: Printed Program, April/May 1939 (3 copies)
14 19 Centennial Celebration: Planning Committee Minutes, 1939 (2 items)
14 20 Centennial Celebration: Announcement, Service, Banquet Menu, April/May 1939 (3 items)
14 21 Centennial Celebration: Invitees’ Response Letters, April 1939 (11 items)
14 22 Centennial Celebration: Invitees’ Response Letters, April 1939 (10 items)
14 23 Centennial Celebration: Invitees’ Response Letters, April/May 1939 (12 items)
14 24 Newspaper Clippings of 70th and 100th Anniversaries, 1909, 1939 (3 items)
    Dissolution of First Baptist Church, 1976-1977
14 25 Records relative to the dissolution of First Baptist Church, 1976 (9 items)
14 26 Records relative to the dissolution of First Baptist Church, 1977 (6 items)
    Miscellaneous and Related Material
15 1 Copy of McLeod Family History Bible Records, 1887 (1 item)
15 2 Glass plate negative of unidentified dwelling, n.d. (2 items)
15 3 Miscellaneous Items, 1927-1976, n.d. (9 items)
  1. Printed drawing of Rev. F.S. Parke, early preacher to Cohoes congregation, n.d.
  2. Promissory note from Etta J. Williams, 1927
  3. Letter requesting information on Rev. John W. Phillips, 1935
  4. Agreement with the American Baptist Convention to participate in the Retiring Pension Fund, 1955
  5. News clipping honoring Mrs. Elizabeth Ashley, 1973
  6. News clipping on installation of officers, n.d
  7. “Little Red Bank” postcard, n.d.
  8. Two envelopes, 1964, n.d.
15 4 Second Annual Report of New York Apportionment Committee for the Northern Baptist Convention,1910
15 5 The New York Baptist Annual, 1917 (New York: Trow Press)
15 6 Hudson River Baptist Association North, Annual Meeting Programs,
1917 (2 copies), 1918, 1919
15 7 Hudson River Baptist Association North, Annual Meeting Programs,
1921, 1922, 1923, 1924
15 8 Hudson River Baptist Association North, Annual Meeting Programs,
1926, 1927, 1928, 1929
15 9 Hudson River Baptist Association North, Annual Meeting Programs,
1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937
15 10 Hudson River Baptist Association North, Annual Meeting Programs,
1939, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946
15 11 The Psalmist: A New Collection of Hymns for the Use of Baptist Churches, Baron Stow and S. F. Smith (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1854). Inscribed Geo. W. Hutchins.  (Missing cover)
Last Updated: August 11, 2016