Church Records: A Gift from Above, Part I

When Private Homer Rayson of Co. G, 308th Infantry, 77th Division, was killed on October 19, 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, he was mourned by two families – his birth family and his church family.  Homer was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford, New York.  A newspaper article stated that  Homer’s church had erected a plaque in his honor.  Intrigued, I contacted current Associate Pastor Carrie Mitchell for more information.  Ms. Mitchell directed me to First Presbyterian’s Historian, Dick Crawford.  Mr. Crawford graciously offered to meet me at the church to show me the plaque which still hangs in a place of honor. 

World War I plaque, First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford, NY

A week later, we met and discussed the reason for my visit.  After photographing commemorative plaques bearing the names of the men and women who had participated in both World Wars and being given a tour of the church by Mr. Crawford, we ended up in the administrative offices.  It was there I saw the records.

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford, New York, has been in existence since the mid-1820s.  During that time, the church endured two fires; first in 1861 and then again in 2004 when it was struck by lightning.  The resilient churchgoers, with the assistance of the community, rebuilt both times.  Despite these trials the church records, dating back to 1825, miraculously remained intact and untouched by the flames.  It was these record books that Mr. Crawford showed me. 

My excitement grew as I perused the records.  The names of many of my Civil War boys were recorded in the older books.  Wiltsie.  Light.  Shepard.  COOK.  Finally!  The Cook family that no one seemed to remember was listed in the records of the First Presbyterian Church.  It served to validate the fact that they were real, and not just a figment of my active imagination. 

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford, NY

The records of the First Presbyterian Church have given me a fresh insight into these families.  In them, I have discovered the middle name of the missing Cook boy, Edward.  Information about W. Miller Shepard’s death and surviving family members were listed.  Who knows what other nuggets of information will be gleaned from them as I read from page after page?  Time will tell.

Special thanks go to First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford Historian Dick Crawford and Associate Pastor Carrie Mitchell for allowing me access to these local treasures.

Coming soon:  Church Records:  A Gift from Above, Part II, a visit to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Architecture, Civil War Soldiers, Monroe County NY, Pittsford NY, World War I

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: