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Historic chapel

History of the East Galway Methodist Church

The chapel was built in 1859, before Abraham Lincoln became President. It has withstood the test of time and it has seen nearby Saratoga Springs, New York grow into a popular summer getaway spot.

The history of the East Galway Methodist-Episcopal Church can be directly traced back to the original founder of the Methodist Church, Reverend John Wesley.

The year 1766 marked the birth of Methodism in America when the Irish immigrant, Philip Embury began preaching in New York City. He was responsible for the founding of the John's Street Church, the first Methodist Church in America. Philip Embury, of the German- Irish Palatines, cousin of Barbara Heck, was associated with the founding of Methodism in the U.S. and Canada. He emigrated from Limerick, Ireland to New York on August 10th, 1760, along with two brothers, Paul Heck and Barbara (Ruckle), his wife. Philip was a preacher and was married to Margaret Switzer. He was also a carpenter and helped build the John Street Methodist Church of New York. In 1770, he moved to what is now Troy, N.Y. The Hecks moved with him, and together they formed the first Methodist Class. Philip died suddenly in 1775. His widow married John Lawrence.

Members of this church were active in laying the ground work for the expansion of the church to the Troy area. One member, Captain Thomas Webb of the British Army who was stationed near Albany, was instrumental in expanding the faith northward. The Captain, though somewhat uncouth, displayed a genuine power in convincing local residents of the religious truths of the Methodist faith. Webb was distinguished by preaching in his red regimental uniform and a green eye patch, covering the right eye that was lost in the French and Indian War.

Webb settled in New York where he was appointed barrack master at Albany. Captain Webb had the reputation of being a larger-than-life character - it was his custom to preach with a drawn sword laid across the pulpit. Charles Wesley described him as 'an inexperienced, honest, zealous loving enthusiast'.

Being much more restless in nature than Philip Embury, Captain Webb carried the message of Methodism throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

This circuit riding system of the early preachers worked well to deliver the Methodist message to the isolated frontier settlers. The migration of two families into the upper Hudson territory, namely the Emburys and the Hecks in 1770 was important to the further advancement of the Methodist movement into this area. Methodist circuit riders on horseback gathered people between East Galway and Rock City Falls. Methodism became permanently fixed by the establishment of a "Society" in the northeastern part of the Town of Galway on the premises of J. Tubbs in 1810. This "Society" established a meeting house at Swans Corners.

The New Testament Churches were bodies of believers whose religious services were carried out in private homes before the actual erection of a church structure.

The East Galway Methodist Church began with meetings at the homes of several members of the local community. The homes of Seldon and Margaret Pulling, and Jeremiah Bidwell were opened for religious services. Because of the continued enthusiasm and growing numbers of members, it became necessary for the group to have a separate meeting house. The first services of this group were held in a schoolhouse south of the hamlet. During this period, a meeting was held on November 1, 1858, and the building of permanent church structure was proposed. Another meeting held 10 days later in the home of Sheldon Pulling developed committees to find a suitable site for the church. A building committee headed by Enos Mead was organized to consider various church plans and designs. The deliberations of these meetings resulted in the building of the church in the summer of 1859. The building was completed under the direction of Mr. Seaman, who acted as Chief carpenter.

The Church was dedicated on September 15, 1859 with the Reverend Professor Taylor Lewis of Troy, New York preaching the sermon.


Among the early members of the church, the name of Seldon Pulling keeps appearing. He not only held many of the meetings in his home, he donated the land on which the church still stands. Here is the original deed conveying his property to the founding fathers of the Church. Seldon, his wife, Margaret and infant daughter are buried in the Welch Rd. Cemetery about a 1/4 of a mile from the church.

A great number of members donated money toward the completion of the church as it stands today. A memorial fund helped to purchase the bronze bell and the family of William Beardsley provided the unique stained glass window that remains today.

WILLIAM HENRY BEARDSLEY was born September 8, 1817 in East Galway, Saratoga County, New York, and died December 31, 1861 in East Galway, Saratoga County, New York. He married ELIZA LADOW 29 Jan 1840. She was born 23 Aug 1815, and died 1902.

i. RUHAMAH BEARDSLEY, b. 06 Jun 1841; m. JOSEPH A. MCMILLAN, 1863.
ii. CORNELIA BEARDSLEY, b. 27 Sep 1842; d. 22 Oct 1844.
iii. LAURA ANN BEARDSLEY, b. 1845; d. 1910 m. (1) MORGAN WELSH, 1874; m. (2) MYRON B. TENNY, 1884; d. 1892.
iv. JAMES SPENCER BEARDSLEY, b. 1847; d. 1917.
v. JACOB ST. JOHN BEARDSLEY, b. 1849; d. 1850.
vi. MARY ELISA BEARDSLEY, b. 1851; d. 1853.
vii. ELMORE WARREN BEARDSLEY, b. 07 May 1853; d. 14 Mar 1906; m. SARAH A. BATCHELDER, 1880.
viii. HENRY PERRY BEARDSLEY, b. 30 Jul 1857, East Galway, Saratoga County, New York; d. 23 Aug 1921, West Milton, Saratoga County, New York; m. ELLA FRANCES RICH, 18 Jun 1884; b. Abt. 1855, Melrose, Middlesex County, Massachusetts; d. 13 Feb 1916, At the age of 61 years.
ix. ALBERT REUBEN BEARDSLEY, b. 1860; d. 1933; m. (1) NELLIE DRAKE; b. 1876; d. 1933; m. (2) CORA E. MASTIN, 1885.

Click here for a detailed genealogy of William Beardsley

Although the church had undergone a number of adverse conditions over the years, the harmony of spirit and the fidelity to a cause that helped early members realize their dreams is still present today. It has lead to the restoration and revitalization of this historic church by Wendy Lyon.

Click here for a list of older graves in the Welch Rd. Cemetery where many of the church members are buried.