Sterling Baptist Church

Roadside Historical Marker Sterling Baptist Church closeupSITE OF
First Baptist Church of Sterling.
Erected in 1841.  Federated with
United Presbyterian in 1931.
Churches consolidated in 1962.
Sold and Dismantled in 1970.

This marker was erected by the Cayuga County Historical Society. No documentation has been located to show when this was done.

This historical marker stands in the hamlet of Sterling Center on State Route 104A just east of New Street, across the road from the Sterling Center Cemetery.  map

The Baptist Church of Sterling began about 1817. Members in the area included those in Hannibal as well as Sterling. Some of the early members are shown as Mary Dumass, Amos and Annie Wiltsie, John and Sarah Lake, and Esther Devine. The first meetings were held near the Hannibal town line east of Sterling Center in the home of Joseph Bunnell. When Reverend Carpenter was installed in 1825 the name was changed to the Baptist Church of Sterling and Hannibal. In 1827 a church house was built in Hannibal and churchgoers traveled there for worship.

In 1841 forty-one of the members were released to create their own congregation on October 2nd of that year with Reverend T. H. Green as their leader. Their first meeting was in the Sterling Center schoolhouse. This early schoolhouse was a one room a log structure located across the road from the Sterling Historical Society’s Little Red Schoolhouse Museum. Construction of the Baptist church edifice erected at the location of this marker was soon begun, but not completed until April 1845.

This congregation supported the anti-slavery cause. Historian Belle Kirk Rae wrote that her family once hosted famed abolitionist, Frederic Douglas, at their home when he spoke at this church as part of his anti-slavery speaking circuit. As a child Mrs. Rae was introduced to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton when they spoke here on Women’s Rights.

In 1903 a passing stranger noticed the desolate appearance of the old church and took it upon himself to revive the local members with the help of Reverend Paul Brown. The pastorate was revived and thrived for many years. As the sign indicates it was federated with the United Presbyterian Church in 1931 and consolidated in 1962, after which meetings were held at the Presbyterian church house and in 1970 the 125 year old Baptist church was torn down. Today it is a vacant lot behind an historic marker that memorializes it’s place in Sterling’s History.

 Baptist Church Site

Baptist Church colorized

Roadside Historical Marker Sterling Baptist Church site

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