Continuing along with this historic series, here are excerpts from the fifth of a series of articles published by The Southampton Press titled “Southampton Sixty Years Ago,” beginning in December of 1927 and written by Benjamin C. Palmer. (In other words, the series, written in 1927, was referring to conditions in this village circa 1867.) This part focuses on religion rather than buildings.
“We have stated that the old timers were a good and a Godly class of people, quite right are we in that assertion. They were a hard working, honest class, remembering always the Sabbath day to keep it holy. No stores were ever open on the Lord’s day, no work of any kind, except labors of necessity, ever broke the hallowed precincts…..To be a loyal member o this hallowed community one had simply to be a faithful Presbyterian and a full blooded republican……..There was no opposition to this form of home happiness, until about 1835, Evangelists from Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton found their way into these peaceful precincts and disturbed the harmony of the religious hearts that had held their own communion ever since the establishment of the village. These interlopers were Methodists who would not be frowned down, conversions were made and a society formed right here on the hunting grounds of the society who had never had any opponents to interfere or to combat with. The Methodists stuck like ivy to a stone wall, and they grew in numbers, casting their nets out among those whom the Presbyterians considered rightfully belonged to their bailiwick. When the old [Presbyterian] church had been removed in 1844 to make place for the new one, the Methodists tried to buy it and while the old building was a white elephant on the hands of the owners, they would not under any condition sell it to that band of interlopers whose very existence disturbed the peacefulness of the community….the building was sold to one of [the Presbyterian’s] own members, who, when he became the actual owner, found that he too had a white elephant on his hands, too big to handle. He got rid of the immediate burden by running it onto a plot of land purchased of Capt. Charles Howell, and there it has stood ever since, though partially destroyed by fire a few years ago. The owner only too glad to get rid of it at any price sold it to “them air Methodists.” There was no kindly feeling or brotherly love existing between the two churches standing in such close proximity though two or three revivals stirred the town and more or less contact with each other became necessary until after the fire of the revival died down when various members of the two congregations reverted to the old time suspicion and jealousy……There was no harmonious assimilation until the Y.M.C.A. established a society here…….Today there exists perfect peace and harmony, freely assimilating with each other, two well established Episcopal, tow Roman Catholic, two colored churches, a Christian Science Society, a Christian Alliance Mission, and we hear rumors that a Jewish Synagogue is to be established here.”
I love these accounts and hope you do too. Part VI will follow, and Part VII will end the series.