Built 1847-Moved 1879-Burned 1898:  The Original, Historic Baptist Church
NW Corner of Fulton & Water

photo credit:  An Illustrated Souvenir of Smethport, Pennsylvania By John W. Sanborn and Charles Latham, 1895.  

1st Baptist Church

1950 Cottage House Becomes
Fulton House

 See 1899 post fire Cottage House Hote
To 1899 "new" Baptist Church at corner of King & Hill Streets

Roll Call at Baptist Church
McKean County Miner January 4, 1895 Page 3, Column 2

a Roll call and crequested.

The Baptist Sunday School is under obligations to Mr. A. D. Doyle, the genial salesman for the Olean Music Co., for the use of one of his fine pianos on Christmas eve.  In connection with the above business, Mr. Doyle is now dealing in a general line of sheet music and musical instruments.

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Fire Found at Baptist Church
McKean County Miner December 23, 1898 Page 3, Column 2
Discovered in the Baptist church, corner Fulton and Water streets, at about 12:30 o'clock Saturday morning and an alarm sounded.  The hose boys quickly responded, but were unable to save the structure, which was built almost entirely of pine and burned like tinder.  By the hardest kind of work the firemen succeeded in preventing the flames from communicating to the adjoining buildings.  The fire originated around the furnace in the basement.  The church was built in 1847 and formerly stood on Main street, opposite Brownell Bros.' store.  In 1879 it was removed to the present site, where it was extensively repaired and an addition built.  A few years ago a large pipe organ was placed in the church which was destroyed with the building.  There was an insurance of $2,500 on the property.
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On Monday December 17, 1898 the original Baptist Church burned to the ground.
"The whistle called out Smethport Hose about 1:00 a.m.  The Baptist church was in flames and couldn't be saved.  It was a total loss.   Insurance $2,500."
Smethport Hose Company Minutes, December, 1898

An Early History of the Original  Baptist Church

The Baptist Church of Smethport had its origin in the society formed in Norwich township in 1820. The Baptist revival of May 1836, was conducted by a Mr. Ketchum. He came to Farmer's Valley to convert the people who scoffed at the preachers of the period. During the meetings a baby died at Smethport, and Mrs. Asa Sartwell went up to offer consolation to the parents. At the burial there was no one to say a prayer. Next morning she, with other women, went down to the camp, and arrived there just as Ketchum was reading the text--"Woe unto ye lawyers." After the rough address the women told him the state of affairs at Smethport, and he agreed to move on the village next day, provided the women would support him. He came and opened his batteries in the court-house. There was a Methodist class here composed of Richard Chadwick, Horace King, Mrs. Sol. Sartwell, Mrs. Ghordis Corwin and others, but they had no church house. All turned to Ketchum, who conducted the meetings for some days, when he was called away, leaving Mr. Denning, a Methodist preacher, to baptize sixty persons. In 1840 a society was organized here with the following members: William Williams and wife, James Taylor and wife, Ann Taylor, William L. Oviatt and wife, Job Gifford, Sr., and wife, Elizabeth Holcomb, Amy Holcomb, Nelson Medbery and wife, Ghordis Corwin and Benjamin Corwin. The pastors have been Rev. S. Messinger, William Sawyer, Abner Lull, J. L. Smith, J. P. Evans, S. D. Morris, Columbus Cornforth, F. H. Gates, W. H. Willahan, C. H. Michelmore, and the secretaries have been George Griswold, William S. Oviatt, C. L. Douglas, Mrs. C. L. Douglas, P. D. Hopkins, J. H. Duntley and L. T. Medbery. In 1847 the church house was erected. This, with lot and other property, is valued at $5,000. The membership is fifty-six. The society was incorporated in June, 1850, on petition of Ghordis Corwin, J. L. Smith, Bester Corwin, William Williams, W. G. Oviatt and E. J. Cook. At the time of organization, in March, 1850, G. Corwin, William Williams, Wheeler Gallup, James Taylor, Benjamin Corwin and J. L. Smith were the trustees.

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From Another Point of View

Smethport Baptist Church

The Smethport Baptist Church had its origins in Norwich Township in 1820.  It wasn't until 1836 that the congregation was formed in Smethport.  In 1850 The Regular Baptist Church was chartered in McKean County.

That year, a Mr. Ketchum came to Farmer's Valley to convert the non-believers.  Coincidentally, a baby had died in Smethport, and there was no one to say a prayer at its burial.  Mrs. Asa Sartwell told the missionary of the incident, and he opened a church in the courthouse.

In Mr. Ketchumís absence, while he was preaching the circuit, the Rev. Denning of the Methodist Church would conduct baptisms.  Between 1820 and 1836, the Smethport believers shared a pastor with the Norwich Church.  In 1836 Rev. Benjamin Oviatt began only serving the Smethport branch and in the 1840 a Baptist Society was formed, including the families of William Williams, James Taylor, William and Benjamin Oviatt, Abner Lull, George Griswold, Job Gifford, Nelson Medbery, and Ghordis and Benjamin Corwin.

The church opened an Academy in 1837, which was turned over to the Smethport School District in 1870.  From 1836 until 1847, the congregation met alternately in the McKean County Courthouse, the Academy, and private homes.

In 1847 the church house was erected with architectural and construction work probably done by Solomon Sartwell.  The original church was built in the location of the American Legion and left side of today's Route 6 Diner directly across from the Brownell Store (now Pink Elephant).  In 1850, The Regular Baptist Church was officially chartered in McKean County.  The first trustees were Ghordis Corwin, William Williams, Wheeler Gallup, James Taylor, Benjamin Corwin, and J. L. Smith.  By 1873, the congregation had built a parsonage with an adjacent cemetery on the south side of Water Street (411-413 W. Water).  In 1879, the Main Street church was moved to a new location on the corner of Fulton and Water (location of today's Cottage House).  Before 1855 all of the church baptisms took place in a nearby stream.  In that year of baptismal for immersion was put in the church.

A tragic fire destroyed the original church in its new location in 1898.  In 1899 the cornerstone for a new church was laid at the southeast corner of Hill and King Streets, and by 1913, the $3,300 church mortgaged was entirely paid.

Seventy years later (April 1969) ground was broken for the present church building located on the East Water Street Extension.  Various members helped Pastor Williams Stroup with construction.  The first service was held in April 1970, and in 1974 another Academy, Smethport Calvary, was established for grades K-12.  Many faithful men have led RBC over the years.  Presently Pastor Dana LaPage is the pastor and also the Academy's principal.

History of the Counties of McKean, Elk, Cameron and Potter, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Selections, Volume 1. Chicago:
J. H. Beers & Co.,
Publishers, 1890. p.265
Return to Baptist Church 1895
To fulton & Main west on Water Street to Fire Company