FOX HILL, NY
In the years around 1920, a small band of Christians worshipped in a rural wood frame church atop Fox Hill at Edinburg, New York. It was an interdenominational body, permitting anyone who truly knew the Lord to proclaim the scriptures. Bro. Earl Curtis and Bro. Loren Bills were two of the local preachers.
A young 15-year old girl, Ethel Farmington (Bills), remembers visiting the little church one Sunday night in May 1932. Later that very night the church burned to the ground, Memorial Day 1932. The congregation would meet for the next ten years in cottage meetings at different neighborhood homes, and for a while in the old county school house across the road from the burned church. For ten years the holiness folk had no church.
But God works in miraculous ways. A man by the name of Orrin L. Fay was sent to the Pilgrim Holiness Church in Wells, New York. He wasn't there long until he saw the need of a Holiness Church on Fox Hill, so he purchased an old saw mill in Wells and proceeded to move it to Fox Hill. During the winter of 1941 he chugged up the road almost daily from Wells in his old truck, aided by his friend Lincoln Curtis. They brought a frozen kettle of soup each day, hung it above an open fire, and enjoyed its warmth and nourishment at lunch time. The old sawmill saw months of work! Many hours of sacrifice and toil, as well as egg monies from their own chickens, were freely given by Bro. and Sr. Fay so that a Holiness Church might send forth the light on Fox Hill! On the day of dedication in 1942 a $40 indebtedness remained, but it was raised that day. That church still stands, which is the present-day overflow and Sunday School room area.
On July 27, 1955 Rev. 0. L. Fay came back for a formal organizational meeting of the Pilgrim Holiness Church on Fox Hill! The time had come, the members felt, to associate themselves with a denomination, and so 14 years after Bro. Fay’s beginning labors, the highlight came! On that Sunday, the charter members of the Fox Hill Pilgrim Holiness Church are listed as: Asa Bills, Ethel Bills, Susan Anna Bills, Melvin Kinney, Bertha Kinney, Bill Kinney, Peggy Kinney, Bernice Bills, Verna Parker, Oscar Howland, Carol Bills, Meredith Bills, Maude Brownell, Kenneth Brownell and Stanley Bills. Pastors during the early years included: Rev. 0. L and Dorothy Fay (1941-43); Rev. Bernard Barton (1943-45); Rev. Newton Reick (1945-48); Rev. Seymour Lawton (1948-55); Rev. Hazel Ferry (1955); Rev. Milton Pierpoint (1956); Rev. Paul and Sally Phillippe (195&58); Rev. Donald and Paula Myers (1958-63).
Tragedy struck again on February 14, 1962, as in the middle of the night the parsonage burned to the ground. It began in the wall around the kitchen stove. The young Myers family was awakened by their pet dog barking, they fled to neighbors, losing everything they owned, even their pet dog which had warned them perished. The Gifford Family who owned a motel in Northville opened up rooms free of charge to the Myers family, where they lived for several months. The parsonage was gradually rebuilt, thanks to the labors of young Pastor Myers.
A look at expenditures during those early years proves quite interesting. The church paid $16 on July 15, 1956 to move Rev. Phillippe from Boston. On October 7,1956 the Phillippes received $44.65 for the week’s support. A delivery of oil was $2.71. The Niagara Mohawk bill for May 28, 1958 was $8.44. On July 13, 1958 Rev. Donald Myers received his first “support” offering of $29.26. The Self-Denial offering of November 30, 1958 was $31.10. On January 4,1960 the church paid $.89 for 3 phone calls to Gloversville, $.26 for one of them.
The roll call of April 6, 1966 reveals some changes. John and Carol (Bills) Sherman had left the area to pastor. Stanley Bills had gotten married to Jane Knapp. Bernice Bills had married Sonny Bordeaux. Ruth Richmond was now Mrs. Meredith Bills. So the names listed in the ledger are: Rev, and Mrs. Francis Richmond, Raymond Richmond, Doris Richmond, Viola Bills, Harriet Edwards, Lorena Moshier, Asa Bills, Othelia Bills, Stanley Bills, Jane Bills, Meredith Bills, Ruth Bills, Sonny Bordeaux and Bernice Bordeaux.
In later years pastors included: Rev. Francis and Florence Richmond (1963-70); Rev. Kendall and Rogene Straight (1970-73); Rev. David Smith (1973-75); Rev. Richard and RuthAnn Holiday (1975-80); Rev. Joseph and Mable Hunting (1980-88).
Some improvements made during those years were: the church bell was donated by an unnamed person and installed in the fall of 1967. Under Pastor Straight a side entrance and front steps to the parsonage were made and wood paneling put in the church. Bro. Straight was also the first pastor to receive a pre-determined salary of $75.00 per week plus utilities. On October 14, 1973, under Pastor David Smith, a special dedication of the new church piano was held in memory of Leonard LaPort, a young Fox Hill boy who was killed in Vietnam. In 1978 drainage ditches were dug around the parsonage by Bruce Ginter and the cellar walls were completed at a cost of $1,600.
Under the ministry of Rev. Joseph Hunting (1980-88) the church saw construction of a new addition! The 50’ x 28’ basement and sanctuary added to the back of the original structure supplied needed modern facilities and enabled the church to sub-divide the “Fay Church” into Sunday School classrooms. The church was covered in white vinyl siding and re-shingled. Other improvements included a new drilled well for the parsonage and a pole-built garage. Sr. Hunting is remembered for her children’s services held weekly outside for area youngsters.
In 1988 Rev. Hunting closed his successful eight-year ministry at Fox Hill and was followed by Rev. Paul Mullen for three years. With the aid of Wes Cox, the first Sunday School room was constructed in the new church basement, a wood stove and new chimney were added to the parsonage, and a concrete floor poured in the garage. Repairs were also made around the parsonage foundation.
August 29, 1991 saw the arrival of the church’s current pastors, Rev. Brenda Wallick and Rev. Genie Dickerson. Vacation Bible School has been held each year since their arrival. The 1992 and 1993 enrollment was in the 60’s. 1996 enrollment was 69. Annual church youth banquets honoring High School and College graduates are held each spring. Outreach into the Fox Hill community has brought an upsweep in Sunday School attendance, necessitating the building of a large Sunday School classroom for Young Adults in the new basement. Three Baptismal services have been held in the last three years in the Sacandaga Lake. The entire church was electrically rewired in 1994, and two new furnaces were installed in 1995.
In the spring of 1996 glass doors were installed in the main foyer, beautifully etched with praying hands and a cross. In the summer of 1996 we discovered the old foundation walls beneath the “Fay Church” were crumbling. At the cost of $10,000, we had the old walls torn out and new wall laid. The old entry way was removed and replaced with a beautiful sand blasted window with the design that matches the entry way doors. The window was a gift to the church by Gerald and Barbara Ginter. White vinyl siding finished the outside and a wheelchair ramp was built for handicap access.
As the future looms, it is still beneficial to review the past; to see where and how our roots first became established; to realize again that grandparents and great-grandparents have walked right where we walk and have sat right where we sit today.
As our small children take their places in the Pilgrim Holiness Church of New York, Inc. on Fox Hill, may they find in the heritage of their past the pride and strength to meet the spiritual challenges of their day.
Jeremiah 6:16 - “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Those in Christian service from our Fox Hill Church include... Rev. Rod and Cora Wells, Pilgrim Holiness Missionaries to Brazil, South America. Rev. John and Carol (Bills) Sherman, Pilgrim Holiness Pastors. Cathy (Sherman) Symons, Bible College President’s wife. Rev. James Sherman, Pastor. Rev. Dale Sherman, Missionary, a fourth-generation Bills descendant. Rev. Asa Sherman, Pastor, a fourth-generation Bills descendant. Aaron Sherman, studying for the ministry, a fourth-generation Bills descendant. Steve Harvey, studying for the ministry, a third-generation Harvey in God’s service.
Last modified 12/9/00