Names Index
Portrait Index

   REV. JOHN SMITZER, deceased, who was one of the most earnest and successful Christian workers ever known in Madison County, was born in New York, September 6, 1799, and was baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist church December 11, 1816. In early life he was deprived of the care, counsel, and sympathy of both parents, his mother dying when he was five years old, and his father when he was eleven. He was licensed to preach in 1817, and, after a course of literary and theological study in the Baptist Theological Seminary of New York City, was ordained December 21, 1820. Soon afterward he was settled as pastor of the churches in Bethany and Damascus, in Wayne County, and was for some time the only minister of the gospel in that part of the State, his field of labor embracing sixteen miles from north to south and thirty-eight from east to west. This field he occupied until 1826, when he went to Delphi, Onondaga County, where he remained seven years. Removing thence to Eaton, Madison County, in 1833, he stayed there six years, and was subsequently pastor of churches in Fayetteville, Albion, Cbittenango, Elbridge, Manlius, and Springville. During his extended ministry he baptized nine hundred and ninety-eight persons.
   Much of the later life of this distinguished preacher was devoted to the work of the New York State Baptist Convention, which he served for nine years as its secretary, afterward for twelve years giving his entire time to that office. His early missionary labors and his extensive acquaintance with the churches in different parts of the State peculiarly qualified him for that responsible position, and rendered him especially effective in directing missionary work, while the reverential affection and confidence which his character inspired gave emphasis and acceptance to his appeals for help. His preferences were for pastoral work, and in the performance of such labor he was always successful; but he was almost compelled to take up the work of the Convention, there not appearing to be any other man fitted therefor. In the performance of the duties of this latter position he was obliged to travel into almost every part of the State, and was very active and effective in advancing the interests of the organization. He was also extensively engaged in revival work, not in the character of an evangelist, but rather laboring upon invitation, as his efficient services seemed to be desired. His death occurred in the village of Oneida, September 7, 1876, [See errata page.] in which place he had settled some years previously. In 1824 Rev. John Smitzer took to himself a wife, Mary Hatch, daughter of Daniel and Bethiah (Root) Hatch, the date of whose marriage was January 31, 1797. They were the parents of eight children, seven daughters and one son. Daniel Hatch, the father of Mrs. Smitzer, was born in Winchester, N.H., April 20, 1771, and lived there until he was eighteen years of age. Then removing to Montpelier, Vt., he remained there about a year, working most of the time for a lot of new land, on which he intended to settle. Failing to obtain a title, he came to the State of New York the following year, and began working in Sherburne, where he made a bargain for another tract of land, but for some reason failed also to secure that. He finally effected a purchase of land in the town of Eaton, then a part of the town of Hamilton, and upon this lot made a permanent home for himself, living there until his death, which occurred September 1, 1845. Mrs. Hatch was of Oxford, Chenango County. She experienced religion in 1806, and became a member of the First Baptist Church of Hamilton. When the church in the village of Eaton was organized, in 1816, she was one of the constituent members, and had the privilege of seeing all of her daughters baptized into the fellowship of that church. She was a woman of deep and abiding piety, and her house was long regarded as the home of ministers and of students of Madison University at Hamilton. She reached the venerable age of ninety-seven years.
   Mrs. Mary H. Smitzer, the widow of the subject of this sketch, at the present time (1893) is ninety-one years old. She is still active and in the full possession of her mental faculties; and her physical strength, considering her advanced age, is quite remarkable. She is pleasantly situated on Main Street, having with her an adopted daughter, Katie, and, notwithstanding her great age, is contented and happy, having no fears of what may come after passing from this earthly life, but looking forward with the serenest confidence to a never-ending eternity of happiness and peace.


1999- All rights reserved.