Since that time, 75 more years has passed. The world has changed so much since those early years after the Civil War, when many people still spoke their native language and some could not even sign their name, to today when we can quickly pull out our iphones in Sunday School to find the answer to some elusive question of Bible history.
Times change, people change, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Lives are still being changed here forever. As one of our newer members told her unbelieving family, “I don’t have to wait until I have problems to seek out God and talk to him”.
Many names have been written here in the Lamb’s book of life, and our small country church continues to shine the light of Jesus Christ, from this tiny lighthouse on the hill.
Sources: History of the Folsomdale Baptist Church, 125th Anniv.; A Town of Country Folk, by Anita Ripstein-Hayes; Beers History of Wyoming County, NY
A N D T H E S T O R Y B E G A N . . .
Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation. Joel 1:3
Overlooking the tiny hamlet of Folsomdale is a picturesque white country church,
which has stood for almost 150 years on the west side of Folsomdale Road in the
town of Bennington. The original Baptist society was composed of German
families who had settled in the area during the 1840’s and 1850’s. In the first
years, their services were held at the Baptist Church at Bennington Center,
across the road from where the Bennington fire hall stands today.
On November 20, 1867, they formed a separate society, with 12 charter members,
shared space with two other churches at the Free Will Baptist Church of
Folsomdale (a little north of the present church, closer to Schoellkopf Road), and began to make plans to build a church of their own. Members donated hemlock logs and shingles made by hewing them off a large block of wood, their labor and much personal sacrifice, to complete the present Folsomdale Baptist Church in July of 1869, at a cost of $1200.
The first minister was Rev. Peter Ritter, who was born in Alzenau, Bavaria, immigrated in 1857 and graduated from the Baptist Seminary in Rochester. He was ordained at Folsomdale, his first church, where he received a salary of $50 a year. He is remembered as a great winner of souls. The congregation grew and remained steadfast, while other small churches were disappearing. Many pastors came while students at the Rochester seminary, were ordained at Folsomdale and went on to minister at various churches around the country. One of the first, Rev. Franz Friedrich, gave German lessons to Frances Folsom, a little girl who became the wife of President Grover Cleveland. The church building and the parsonage have been updated several times. Missions has been a major focus of the church, and many ministers and members have gone into the mission field. From the early days of contributing to the seminary and orphanage, the church continues to support missions that are both local and worldwide.
Over 275 people attended the 65th anniversary. Mrs. Grace M. Domes of Attica pastored the church for 12 years and kept the church going during the Great Depression and the Second World War.
In 1942 the 75th anniversary was celebrated. As the war raged, people were not afraid to turn to the Lord and pray for an end to so much suffering. Attending church was even encouraged in the newspaper. An article about the anniversary appeared in the Attica News, June 1942, along with the following:
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