Home > Uncategorized > Religion in Washington County, New York

Religion in Washington County, New York

Source: “[Untitled],” New England Exodus (July 1964), page 27.

[page 27]

The New Englanders had no Moses to lead them through the wilderness, they didn’t need him.  They were level-headed Yankees who knew how to take care of themselves.  At the close of the Revolutionary War, the western-most counties in Massachusetts and Connecticut served as a great funnel through which hoards of land-seeking young families passed on their ways north and west.  A better life beckoned beyond.  Much of the land in New England is sterile and their newly cleared farms on the hillsides of Southern Vermont or New Hampshire were not productive, so a generation or so later, many of these families were again on the move to the great western areas in New York or Ohio.  Religion played an important part in the lives of these pioneers and many of the newly formed communities revolved around the Church.  This was especially true in Washington county, N.Y. where we find congregations of Quakers and Baptists, some of whom came from the northern towns in Berkshire Co., Mass., some from Vermont, but nearly all had ancestral roots in Rhode Island or Bristol County, Massachusetts.  The Scottish Presbyterians were early represented in Washington County.  Some came from Ireland to escape persecution there, while others (some of whom were related to those who came directly from Ireland) had migrated to Washington Co. from already-established Scotch-Irish centers in Massachusetts or New Hampshire.  Thus the study of religions is seen to be directly involved with the migrations of our ancestors and in many cases the religious affiliation of the ancestor is the most important clue in tracing his background.

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