1899 Eldred Congregational Church Centennial

Rev. Joel F. Whitney, the Congregational Church Pastor who offered words of welcome. Photo courtesy of Mary A.

The Congregational Church of Narrows Falls was started by Rev. Isaac Sergeant in August 1799. One hundred years later the church was still in existence as the Congregational Church of Eldred.

Centennial services were held in the church built in 1835 when Felix Kyte was the pastor. The first meeting was Friday, August 11, 1899, at 2 p.m.

The newspaper article, A Century of Church Life in the Tri-States Union, was in my mother’s wonderful collection.

The Methodist Pastor Rev. S.O. Rusby read Psalm 84. Words of welcome were offered by the Congregational Pastor, Rev. Joel F. Whitney.

Children, including Minnie Sergeant, a descendant of Rev. Isaac Sergeant, read scripture. Minnie’s father Isaac Sergeant was a deacon and Sunday School Superintendent.

Two of Rev. Felix Kyte’s sons spoke. Felix J.S. Kyte told of the family’s travels to the area in 1832. Rev. Joseph Kyte remembered the “roast beef” at the Covert’s house in Glen Spey was “bear meat.”

Jacob Stage, 93, remembered one of the first members, Deacon Ichabod Carmichael.

Stephen St. John Gardner spoke for his mother, now 88 years young. “If I were 30 years younger, I would walk up to Eldred, even in a storm, if I might see the same spirit of love there now that I saw in those early days.”

Mr. Gardner spoke feelingly of his remembrance of those who used to worship here, picturing them as they sat so that we could almost see them again as they listened to the Word, sang God’s praise and studied the Bible.

Deacon Edward Wilson, in his gentle way told the children, “I was 17 years old when I first went to Sunday School and learned that verse, ‘God so loved the world.’”

Rev. A. Eugene Austin spoke with emotion. I remember dear old Felix Kyte. No storm or weariness kept him from doing his duty to the uttermost. I used to see him getting off his saddle at my Grandfather Austin’s almost too feeble to ride, and thought of him with wonder and boyish admiration. What a good man he must be. I have seen him walking by his horse that the weary animal might have rest.

There is dear old Aunt Eliza Gardner. You never go there but she speaks of God, strong in the faith and in her childlike trust in Him. How much I owe my mother. When far from home, I thought of her and that kept me in the hour of temptation.

There was a brief intermission with pictures and reminiscences of the former days. The pastor read a historical sketch, and dismissed the audience with a benediction after they sang, Blest be the Tie that Binds.

On Sunday (called the Sabbath) Rev. Joseph Kyte preached on Ephesians 5:35–27. Mrs. Eliza Gardner, 88, the oldest surviving member of the church, was not present.

Jacob Stage, 93, the oldest person present, had been a member of the Congregational Church before he joined the Methodist Church. Jacob’s wife Martha Carmichael had died in 1894. Jacob lived with his son at Handsome Eddy. The story of Martha’s grandmother and the bear (found on p. 21 in The Mill on Halfway Brook) was told at the centennial.

Stories teeming with interest were told during the afternoon of the first log house, the first church meeting, thrilling adventures of forefathers with bears, wolves and panthers which made the younger generation almost wish they had lived in those days to encounter and pass through some of the thrilling vicissitudes with which our ancestor had to contend.

After a profitable afternoon the meeting closed by the singing of the centennial hymn.

Felix J.S. Kyte, Rev. Joseph Kyte, and Thomas and Miss Elizabeth Kyte, children of Rev. Felix Kyte, who was pastor of the church for 46 years, were present and were conspicuous speakers at the meeting.

The choir included: Deacon Isaac Sergeant, a great-grandson of Rev. I. Sergeant, the organizer of the church; Herbert N. Kyte, organist, a grandson of Rev. Felix Kyte, Miss Florence Grace Beck, Mr. and Mrs. Perine of Brooklyn, and Miss Jessie Bolton of Brooklyn, and Henry Ladore Austin.

Deacon Henry Austin has resided on the Austin homestead for over 60 years.

The motto from Psalms 115:1, “Not Unto Us, Not Unto Us, but Unto Thy Name,” which adorned the walls, was chosen for the occasion by Miss Elizabeth Kyte.

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