Monday, August 29, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Israel Swayze and The Beaverdams Church

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

Below I transcribe a plaque, mentioning my 4th Great Grandfather, Israel Swayze (1753-1844)


Early in the 1790s a group of settlers in this area had been converted to Methodism and formed a Class which in 1795 was included in the newly-established Niagara Circuit. Services were held in the home of a prominent local settler, Israel Swayze, and camp meetings took place on his property. This church, one of the oldest remaining Methodist chapels in the province, was built in 1832. The Reverend Egerton Ryerson, who later was principally responsible for the founding of this province’s educational system, was the first minister to preach in the chapel. The building was renovated extensively in 1879, but regular services were discontinued about 1890.

Architectural and Historic Sites Board of Ontario.

Image source:


1. Other sources indicate the meetings were on the property of Israel and his son, Hiram Swayze. Hiram deeded the land to the congregation where the church was built in 1832.

2. Israel Swayze isn't the only ancestor of mine responsible for the founding of a place of worship. My 8th great grandfather, Myndert Frederickse, helped found a Lutheran church in Albany, New York. And my 2nd great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, helped found Tpheris Israel Congregation in St. Louis.

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