A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A 1904 History of Baptists in Keyport and Matawan

A History of Baptists in New Jersey, by T S Griffiths, published by Barr Press Publishing Company of Hightstown, NJ in 1904, is available at Internet Archive. The online text is obviously scanned and so has a number of common OCR errors.

Below, I've attempted to fix the errors in the text of the book's chapter 24, which talks about the history of Baptists in Keyport and Matawan.


Keyport is on the shore of the Raritan Bay in Monmouth county, six miles from Middletown village. At the time of the organization of the Baptist church, in 1840, it was a small village of late origin. The pastors of Middletown, Holmdel and Jacksonville had appointments there for several years before the Baptist church was formed. Thus Baptists increased until their number justified an organization of a Baptist church. Rev. J. M. Carpenter of Jacksonville, first made a regular appointment. Mr. S. Sproul, a licentiate of Middletown, a resident at Keyport was active in maintaining social devotional meetings there. Providentially, Rev. F. Ketchum, an evangelist came to Middletown. Hundreds of converts were a result of the meeting.

A proposal to found a branch at Keyport was rejected and a Baptist church of eleven constituents was organized in August 1840. On the same day, Mr. Ketchum baptized twelve converts into its fellowship. The Board of the State Convention appointed Mr. Jackson Smith, a licentiate of Middletown church its missionary at Keyport. Mr. Smith gave up the field and in February 1841, the Board was asked to appoint Mr. William V. Wilson to Keyport. They did so. Mr. Wilson was ordained in May 1841. Rev. Mr. Wilson has lived and his ministry has been exclusively in Monmouth county. New Jersey, where he has been pastor of three Baptist churches, Keyport, Navesink and Port Monmouth, closing his pastoral work January 1, 1892, of fifty-one years, being past his eightieth year and pastor of the third church to which he ministered thirty-eight years. These fifty years of pastoral labor within so narrow a circuit is an indication of the worth of the man and of his influence. Himself financially able, churches, missions and education were quietly uplifted from depths.

A meeting house was built at Keyport the first year of Mr. Wilson's pastorate. Originally, Keyport church had been constituted as the third church of Middletown. Holmdel being the second Middletown. But in 1850, the name was changed to first Baptist church of Keyport. Soon after settling at Keyport, Pastor Wilson made a regular appointment at Middletown point, (now Matawan). He also administered the Lord's Supper in school houses for the convenience of the Baptists scattered in the (now Marlboro township). In 1850, Mr. Wilson secured the erection of a very neat and commodius house of worship in Matawan. Mr. Wilson resigned in August 1853, after being pastor more than twelve years. The growth of the church had been constant and the increase was such that a larger and better church edifice was necessary and measures were taken to build it.

In June 1854, Rev. J. Q. Adams entered the pastorate. In little more than a year, he gave up his charge. Mr. Wilson was called but declined to return. After a long interval in the pastorate. Rev. F. A. Slater accepted the pastoral charge in the latter part of 1856. The resignation of Mr. Wilson delayed the plans for a new house of worship, but earnest plans were adopted at the coming of Mr. Slater and the meeting house was nearly finished when he resigned in 1862. Next December, Rev. A. P. Greaves became pastor; the new church edifice was dedicated while he was ministering to the church. His resignation took effect in 1864.

On the next June 1865, Rev. F. F. Cailhopper was called and soon after settled as pastor. His stay was but four years. A long interval occurred in the pastoral office and the church prospered as much as the conditions allowed. Rev. J. K. Manning entered the pastorate in October, 1870; held the longest pastoral charge the church enjoyed. Resigning in 1883, about thirteen years. The succession of pastors since him has been: S. K. Dexter, 1883-89; J. D. Crumley, 1890-99. Up to 1900, the church has had nine pastors, two of whom remained twelve and more years each. Several members have been licensed to preach. The church has not been disturbed with discord. Deacon Thomas Burrowes has been an efficient co-worker with the church and the pastors. Equally active in all missions in the vicinity of the church and the Association missions. One church, Matawan has been colonized from Keyport church.

Although Matawan Baptist church is closely related to Keyport Baptist church, Baptist interests there antidated the beginnings of Baptist movements at Keyport. Before 1830, Pastor Roberts of first Middletown church preached in the house of Mrs. Elizabeth Bent at Matawan. Pastors J. M. Carpenter and J. Goble of Jacksonville also preached in Matawan. Mr. Carpenter lived in Matawan two years. Rev. William V. Wilson, while pastor at Keyport preached regularly at Matawan for nearly nine years. Converts there were baptized into the membership of Keyport church. Of the thirty-two Baptists who constituted the Matawan Baptist church on October 22nd, 1850, twenty were from Keyport and a church edifice was built for them by Pastor Wilson of Keyport the same year. It would not surprise those who know Mr. Wilson if they learned that he was the largest donor for its cost.

The Matawan church chose Rev. Job Gaskill of Columbus for their pastor. Mr. Gaskill was a missionary of the Board of the State Convention at work about Matawan. Mr. Gaskill was one of the most devotedly godly men and Mrs. Gaskill one of the most active and earnest among Christian women. Both of them had ample private means and relieved the church of wholly caring for them. Mr. Gaskill was a very frail man, though he had immense courage. Only a few months sufficed to lay him aside and he was compelled to return home Additions to the church greatly strengthened it. Mr. D. F. Twiss followed as pastor. But like to his predecessor, he was very frail. Sad afflictions befell him. Death claimed his four children. Disease preyed upon his companion and hemhorrages warned him of his own early death and in October 1853, he resigned to the grief of the church and community. He died June 30th, 1857, and entered into his reward.

In June 1854, Rev. J. W. Crumb became pastor. For four years he wholly served the church. In the last year of his charge a great calamity befell the church: their church edifice was burned in February 1858. The insurance policy had expired days before and the loss was total. The loss of the pastor and the burning of their house of worship was a concurrence of disappointments, nearly fatal to the church. But a conference of neighboring pastors pledged them help in their need. Pastor Crumb closed his labors at Matawan in May, 1858. A hall was rented and a "permanent supply" obtained. Pastor Slater of Keyport assured them of an afternoon Lord's Day service till they had a pastor.

Rev. J. E. Barnes settled as pastor in November 1859, remaining two and more years. These years had ample returns. Large con- gregations waited on his ministry and his executive gifts wrought to complete a new house of worship. A graduate, Mr. R. G. Farley, came within a year and was ordained. In the next four years, their new church edifice was paid for. The hardships of short and new pastorships and of the fire, caused a decline of the membership and of the financial and spiritual strength. However, Rev. F. A. Slater entered the pastorate in October 1866. In a few years, harvests of converts and renewed vigor confirmed the choice of the pastor. Mr. Slater was pastor for twenty-three years. Resigning in September 1889, on account of increasing infirmities, suffered several years since in a railroad accident.

In January 1890, Rev. C. L. Percy became pastor and closed his charge in October 1894. Two members of the church (women) sailed in 1892, for mission work in India. Pastor H. J. Whalen settled in January 1895 and resigned in January 1899. On the next June, Rev. J. Y. Irving accepted a call to be pastor. While the church has hopeful prospects, the commercial and business future of the town does not indicate an extensive growth. If William V. Wilson is included as pastor, the church has had ten pastors. Two houses of worship have been in use. The first built in 1850 and burned in 1858; another now in use. There is not a published statement of members having been licensed to preach and yet, two female members are in India as missionaries.


Post a Comment