Coram Church Story Told

Footnotes to Long Island History

Coram Church Story Told

December 23, 1954


Thomas R. Bayles


          (Editor’s Note:  This article is based on an unpublished manuscript of an address by Mr. Bayles’ father, Richard M. Bayles, a well-known Long Island historian.  The address was delivered at the Coram church in 1893.)

          In 1847 the old Baptist meeting house, having served its day and generation, was torn down, and its materials used in the construction of a house in Prot Jefferson.  The Baptist church had died out and no doubt a condition of great spiritual indifference existed.  It was time for a more decided and aggressive work to begin.

          At what date the first services conducted by the Methodist preachers were held  in this vicinity we cannot definitely say.  No organized attempt was made towards establishing a church here previous to the decade 1830-40.

          At some time during that period meetings were held in the schoolhouse under the shadow of the Presbyterian church at Middle Island.  As was the case in many other communities, the Methodists had here to contend with some popular prejudices.

          On one occasion when the Rev. Mr. Martindale had appointed a meeting there he and his hearers found the schoolhouse door locked against them.  However, the locked schoolhouse door did not prevent the religious service from being held, for the minister gathered the hearers in the street adjoining, and there beneath the twinkling stars of a pleasant evening and the wide spreading branches of a group of centenary oaks the proposed service was held.  The society, which at that time numbered about 16 members, now set about the work of building a  house of worship.

          The new church was completed in 1841, and its location was on the south side of Middle Country road about 80 rods west of the Presbyterian church at Middle Island.  Directly after the dedication of this house of worship a series of meetings, continuing for 15 days, were held in it, and the church received six additional members.

          About a year later, in the latter part of December, 1842, a series of meetings was begun, conducted by the Rev. Elbert Osborn, his opening address being founded on the motto, “The Battle Is the Lord’s.”

          This was one of the most remarkable revivals ever witnessed in this locality.  Meetings were held daily at 11 a. m. in the morning and 6:30 p. m. and continued for 33 days.  In that time about 75 conversions took place, and young men and women, middle aged men and those with gray hair were brought to a turning point in their lives, and, extending through many years of their lives afterward, proved that the reformation was deep, earnest, real and lasting.

          A half century has passed, and nearly all the actors in that impressive period have passed with the fleeting years, but verily their works do follow them.  The influence of that time may be easily traced to the present.

          The church remained on its site at Middle Island until the early part of the year 1858, when it was taken down and moved to its present location on the site formerly occupied by the Baptist church.  While the work was in progress a revival of great power began, and the church not being in a condition to accommodate meetings, they were held in the ballroom of a former tavern.  This house stood on the corner opposite and eastward from the house now owned by Mr. Brush, formerly known as the O’Dougherty place.

          That old ballroom was during the spring of 1858 the scene of great religious interest.  Meetings were held for several weeks and an awakening was felt in other neighborhoods as well.  Twenty-one members were added to the church soon after.

          We have briefly given you some of the fragmentary items of the history of this church.  When we look at the efforts which have been made by those who have preceded us to pass along the light of Gospel truth, and the blessings of its influence to those who are to follow us, we should be nerved and stimulated to serve our own day and generation so that those who come after us may point with gratitude to the work that we have done.  May this little band of Christians prove themselves worthy successors to the noble and vigorous characters who laid the foundations of this church.


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