Submitted by PHGS Member Dee Davidson
In 1810 the first preaching service in Portland was held in the tavern
of CAPT. JAMES DUNN on the well known DUNN farm, afterward owned by
JOHN DUDLEY and now by Carl RYON, This farm is just east of the
The Preacher, the Rev John SPENCER, discovered from the text ; " For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" His audience was very small, not numbering more than 6 persons besides the DUNN family. Rev. Spencer and other travelling ministers continued to hold occasional preaching services in this settlement known as CENTERVILLE. Now PORTLAND, [ Chautauqua Co.], until in 1814 regular services were conducted by Mr. Amassa WEST, a teacher at the ancient Crossroads, Now Westfield, NY, On January 31 1818, at the log house of JOHN CHURCHILL, [lot #38 T 5] Rev John Spencer organized the First Congregational Church of Portland which was the first organized church in the Township.
The 18 Original Charter members in 1818 were:
The Rev John SPENCER, the founder of this church, was sent to the Holland Purchase by the general Association of Connecticut. His labors at first were confined to the Main Road, from Batavia To Buffalo, and thence to Westfield, but as new settlements were formed off the main road, he was sure to visit them too, going as far south as Olean. As a consequence of this large territory, the individual churches could not have had many visits from him, as riding horseback, was his only mode of conveyance. He always preached a sermon and administered the sacrament at each visit.
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Last Update January 31, 2020