Biography of Rev. Stephen Rensselear Smith


Smith, Rev. Stephen Rensselaer, deceased, was born in Albany, N. Y., September 27, 1783. He was a grandson of John Smith of Scituate, R. I., whose children were Richard, Joseph, Jonathan, Oziel, Thomas, Hope, and Sarah. The six sons participated in some capacity in the Colonial or Revolutionary wars, Hope, the youngest, born in 1750, being commissioned a captain about 1776 by Governor Trumbull and acting as recruiting officer; be was twice married, his second wife being Rachel Horton, of Gloucester. R. I., whom he wedded in June, 1787. Soon afterwardthey removed to Albany, N. Y., and finally settled in Oneida county, where he died in April, 1823, and she in March, 1846. Rev. Stephen R. Smith, their only son, attended the district schools, taught school, etc. In 1811 he became fully identified with Universalism, and in 1812 began the study of theology under Rev. Paul Dean of New Hartford, N. Y. In 1813 the Western Association gave him a letter of fellowship and then he began to prepare himself in earnest for the ministry, his tutor being Rev. Richard Carrique of Chariton. Mass. He was ordained by the General convention of Universalists at Westmoreland, N. H., September 22, 1814, and in June, 1815, preached the first sermon in the first Universalist church built in New York State, at New Hartford. In 1816 he visited Buffalo and spent the summer at Williamsville, being the first preacher of his denomination in this section; he also spent the season of 1817 there, preaching over a large circuit. In 1818 he became pastor of the church in New Hartford: in 1823 be removed to Clinton, and later to Philadelphia, Pa., where he edited the Universalist and its successor the Herald of Salvation. In 1828 he returned to Clinton, where he prepared and published in the Evangelical Magazine a series of articles on the history of Universalism in New York, and where he also took part in May, 1831, in the first public action taken in this State on the subject of theological education for the denomination. He was one of the founders and virtually the father of the Clinton Liberal Institute, of which he was the general agent. In 1835 he became the corresponding editor of the Magazine and Advocate, for which he wrote a series of articles entitled, Causes of Infidelity Removed," which were published in book form. In 1837 he removed to Albany, and in the spring of 1843 settled in Buffalo, where he died February 17, 1850, after serving for six years as pastor of the First Universalist church. Mr. Smith was one of the ablest and foremost ministers of his time. He preached and lectured throughout this State, and was regarded as a man of the highest character, and a profound thinker. He married Lucy Stiliman of Whitestown, N. Y. Of their ten children four are still living.

Our County and its people
A descriptive work on Erie County, New York
Edited by: Truman C. White
The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898


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