Niagara Gazette


April 7, 2014

HIGGS: St. Peter's Episcopal Church and early life


Niagara Gazette — Plans were drawn up by George Holley, construction began in 1847 and the first service was held in the uncompleted chapel in 1848. After its completion in 1849, the Rev. Sylvanus Reed officiated at the first service held on the Second Sunday in Lent (March 4th) and remained with the parish for only six months. He was followed by the Rev. Edmund Roberts (1850-1852) and the Rev. Joseph M. Clarke (1852-1858). During 1852 the founder and leading benefactor, Judge Samuel DeVeaux passed away but the parish continued to move forward and the chapel was officially consecrated in 1853 by Bishop DeLancey. He was assisted by Doctor Strachan, Bishop of Toronto, who preached the consecration sermon.

During 1861, the Civil War broke out. It was called the “War of the Rebellion” in one of my references. This brought a wave of depression to Niagara Falls and the parish. The record stated: “In consequence of the war, the business of the place was much depressed and a number of families of the congregation had removed. The parish felt straightened in its finances, and the rector, influenced by that fact and his own imperfect health, determined to resign.” The Rev. W. O. Jarvis of New York had accepted the call of the vestry and became rector on March 20, 1859, and left on Feb. 22, 1863. He was replaced by the Rev. O.F.Starkey who remained until Dec. 1, 1869.

During the late 1860s the church was more stabilized and expanded to include Sunday school and a private girls’ seminary.

A brick dwelling on a lot on First Street near the church on the south side was purchased for $5,000 with funds from both parish members and churchmen from outside, chiefly from New York. The purpose was for a school for girls to be under the auspices of the church of this parish. A separate corporation was formed named the Jerauld Institute in honor of Dexter R. Jerauld who zealously supported the school. It only operated for a few years as the endowment and supports were inadequate to meet the necessary expenses. The parish was also involved with the DeVeaux School.

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